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Saturday, June 29, 2013

July.... Currently

Hard to believe that July is upon us already. Big doin's at our house this week: birthday week. On Thursday America and I celebrate our birthdays, the grand lady is a little bit older than this lady. Saturday is my oldest daughter's birthday, and Sunday is Red's birthday. We usually celebrate them all together. And I have a granddaughter that had a birthday in June that I have not gotten to celebrate with, so I will add her to the list. So July is going to start off at a run.  I am hearing rumors that summer is half over and I feel like mine has barely just begun with the move and all. But Monday is the beginning of July and it is time to link up with Farley for Currently.

Listening to the quiet as I rejoice in the fact that I actually did not get on the computer, check email, etc. while my daughter and I watched a movie. And how cute it was when she said, "I guess I will go to sleep pretty quickly tonight since there are only 58 minutes left before midnight!" I am an internet junkie and I have the worst habits of having a million things going on at once, it was wonderful to take a little time just to hang out with my Punkin, and now to listen to the peace and quiet knowing she fell asleep feeling cared about.

Loving the cupboard I bought yesterday! My bff from forever, my lifelong friend, and I we like to meet up in the little town of Marion, Kansas.  We have discovered that there are endless antique stores there and fun little novelty shops. Marion is about half way between her home and mine. It's doable and it makes for a fun day-trip. Our favorite antique shop was not open yesterday and we could have called and someone would have come down and let us look around. But this time we chose to check out some stores we might not have gone into otherwise. We even went into the yarn shop and ran into an old friend of mine. One of the little antique places we went into, we noticed that they are selling the building.  I saw this cupboard I just loved. It was a display case and not for sale but I thought to myself... "if they are selling the building, what will they do with all the display stuff?" So I ventured to ask. And the owner said she would ask her daughter who owned the cupboard and call back. Here is the treasure that we put a "sold" sign on yesterday. Mind you, when it comes to me, it will not have the merchandise on it.  It will sit in my dining area and house some snacks that I never have cupboard space for and various things that should be handy for the table at holiday time or dinner times with family. It will serve as a resting place for food at family gatherings when everything doesn't fit on the table.
Thinking that I need to get serious about settling in and getting things unpacked. Some of the problem has to do with not having the right furniture to get settled. But I am making progress on that. And another thing is that I felt a little bit ripped off and lacking in a summer break. I didn't feel like I had gotten to relax and have fun before we moved at all.  The pressure was always present, no matter what. So I have taken a really lax approach. We've taken some time for summer bucket projects and I have been working on my yard and making it homey for the beloved birds that inhabit the yard. But I am getting frustrated with living out of boxes. So it is time to stop messing around and get it put together!!

Wanting too many things to mention. I have made a few purchases and I have a few "needs" still on the list and when that happens, the number of items I think I "need" just grows and grows. I need a few new clothes for the job that I know is out there that I just have not been hired for yet. I need to purchase window crank to replace the one that was missing on the egress window when we moved back in. I need to find a dresser for the Redhead.  I need to think about talking to the bank about financing a different car if I am going to be commuting to work. Want, want, want. Okay, the car thing, that borders on need.  But honestly, we have very few needs.

Needing a job. I am not really going to elaborate since it keeps showing up on everything I post. I know the right job is out there, I know God is big enough to bring it to me and me to it, I am human enough to be starting to be very concerned about our finances.

Tips, tricks or hints. Join linky parties like this one in order to have a structure to blog about during times when you want to share so much, but need a starting place or some sort of direction.  It also acquaints you with so many great bloggers out there and you become part of a community and you can see how other teachers organize, teach and use great products. That was the most helpful advice I have gotten as to what I should do about blogging.

Happy July! Thanks Farley for hosting this every month. Thursday I am going to have a bang-up time celebrating another year of life. We will attend a party at a friends and possibly swim in the pool, we will enjoy LOTS of good food, and set off fireworks.  Because his fabulous yard borders the park, we will watch the city firework display from his yard.  What will you do on the fourth of July? Something special? Time with friends? Time with family? Parades? BBQs? Honor our nation?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday! It's all about summertime!

Whoot! It's Friday! And the magic of Friday is... Five for Friday. I have been busy, but the days ARE starting to run together and I have to ask myself, "what day is it today?" It has been quite a week and some things will be hard to squeeze in because they really should have their own post. Hop over to Doodlebugs and read other Five for Friday blogs.

1. Last week, Heidi from Heidi Songs, posted this link on facebook last weekend! This was a stimulating discussion. I am not on LinkedIn so I didn't partake. But it stimulated a lot of thought about what I think a professional is and what I think a teacher is. (There is a blog post rolling around in my brain, but I haven't gotten it pounded out yet). To me, this discussion was not about tattoos, but about defining professionalism, and for me it stimulated me to contemplate what I think a teacher is. Here is the preview to a post that will still be coming: I see myself as a teacher and that is all encompassing. Being a teacher is not a profession for me, it is who I am, and sometimes that person doesn't qualify as a professional.

2. Bucket List!! We visited the Underground Salt Museum on Tuesday. This would have been a good field trip for our family, but to make it even better, we met up with family! My Aunt Karen had her grandkids, cousins who are really close with my kids (the teenagers are inseparable when they get together). And my Aunt Shirley brought her grand-daughter who is the same age as my youngest. We had a fabulous time!

I just loved this wall. It also showed the episode of "dirty jobs" that features the mine
(which is still active today)

Cousins ready to go down in the mine.

The sign says "Please TOUCH!! But don't climb"
This is a HUGE piece of salt.

Maryland cousins
We started this venture by eating at an Amish restaurant about 6 miles from the mine. The most interesting tidbit (I thought) was the the city of Chicago is the Hutchinson Salt Mine's biggest customer today.

3. I love being back in my home and I've really loved getting my yard back in shape. I love seeing the birds every day. I do not have pictures, but I now have a robin taking a bath every day in the bird bath, which is really fun to watch! The morning glories are starting to coming up so we should have porch coverage by fall. 

Spirea replacement. I had a little spirea out here and it was cut off at the roots
when we got back. So I bought a new one, I know you can't see it very well here! 

The "tried and true" flowers I ALWAYS plant are petunias and marigolds,
but we are too late in the season, so I'm trying some new plants this year! 

I got the bird feeders up too! And the garden ornaments (see the ducks?).
4. Storm. Last night we experienced 85+ mph straight winds. (sad face). Here are a few photos. 
This tree was struck by lightning.

This sunflower was big and gorgeous before the storm. Now it is sad and tired. 
5. On my way to see my BFF and fulfill bucket wishes by going antiquing. I am on my way to Marion, Kansas, to scour the antique shops and meet with my lifelong friend. This is awesome for so many reasons, but I have talking and talking to my kids about how it will be different when we move back and it might take work to reconnect with friends. Yeah, I am super lonely. So getting together with my friend is something I need for my soul.  I am super pumped!


Just a reminder that you can follow m on Bloglovin' by clicking the heart above or by clicking the Bloglovin icon on the right side of my blog. Google reader is going away. Follow me! Happy summer!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chapter Two: The Next Step in Guided Reading

Here I am linking up for Chapter two with Freebilicious! Read and link if you'd like! Go here to get the scoop!

Chapter two in this book is titled: Assessment and Grouping. I am sure it is no surprise to fellow teachers how this is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. I'm still a bit of a "baby" when it comes to teaching, having just completed year number one. Of course, it was more educational than all the years of college and I learned a lot. But I find that my internal dialogue is something like this: "I should have done this instead of that..." or "Why didn't I do this?!" or "I will definitely be adding this to my plans." I think I was a pretty good first year teacher, but I see so much that I will change. I have been excited about this chapter about assessment and guidance on how to best use them, what to use, etc. But I don't really like taking time out of teaching to assess, assess, assess. Sometimes we are required to assess and last year what was to be assessed for report cards was so intensive I didn't do anything else the week before report cards were due. Okay, that is the downside to assessing. But I do know that assessment drives instruction. How do I determine who "got it" and who didn't? How do I determine reading groups if not through assessments? How do I know where to target differentiated instruction? It's all through assessment. I know that. But having my whole classroom driven by finding time to assess is not what I signed up for. I am excited to read everyone else's reactions and see what assessments they use, when they assess and how often, and to see what resources they have to share.

This past year we used STAR early literacy testing. It was a first for the district, so it didn't go as smoothly at first as it did by the end. This is a computerized test and as with all testing, each child's results were dependent not only on their actual reading and comprehension levels but on if they ate breakfast, if they had enough sleep the night before, if there was conflict at home, if they were late to school that morning, and how they were feeling both physically and emotionally. Sometimes the results of the STAR test would have my highest readers in a mid-level group when I knew they should not be moved out of their group.  My grouping was pretty fluid in those terms. If we tested and a student scored differently than what I thought, I would almost always follow with an informal assessment through observation and having them read with me. At that point I would make a decision about moving them to another group.

I had students write their name at the beginning of the year. I did not do a letter recognition test in the first week last year, but I will this year. I was able to tell pretty quickly through informal assessments who knew their letters and who didn't. Last year we used Reading Street and we also had a complete Saxon phonics curriculum. If you are familiar with Reading Street there is a complete phonics curriculum included in the RLA curriculum. I would like to try being true to the curriculum and not trying to include two phonics curriculum.  Of course, I don't know what next year will bring.

During internships I used running records, but I did not use them this year. This is one of those things I plan to do differently. I think they provide a lot of information and are really valuable. So I wonder... why didn't I use them this year? Mostly because nobody said to me, "how are your running records coming along?" and I was just trying to keep my head above water my first year. It sounds sort of like a lousy excuse to me too. :(

As the mother of a struggling reader, I really related to the statement the author made that states: "The fact that a student can read a passage does not mean he or she comprehends it." My daughter could figure out the passage a lot of times but over-used the "does it make sense" strategy without employing other strategies, like reading the sentences around it and then trying to make sense of the entire paragraph.  She would say to me, "this doesn't make sense!" and I would suggest using other strategies to try to gain comprehension and she would yell and not take suggestion. I think this is because I was the Mom and not the teacher.  She worked really hard for her teachers. Once the text got to an instructional level and not a frustration level, the TEACHER (not the Mom) was able to teach her other strategies so she could gain comprehension. Okay, so as a teacher, it is valuable to me to remember that especially at Kindergarten level, it is up to me to teach students how to understand what they read. The chapter points out to me ways to use to do this in both the Analyze Errors section and the Analyze Strategies section.

In the Step 5: Assess Comprehension, I liked it when the author said " A word of caution: No single instrument can capture the total reading process. When making instructional decisions, always consider the student's day-to-day responses and reading behaviors during reading lessons." This pretty much defined how I ran my guided reading groups. My groups were relatively fluid, students moved in and out of groups whenever I felt they needed to move, but I used the STAR testing, observation, and a one-on-one reading assessment to determine if I would move them. Another statement I really liked in the book was when the author mentioned asking "Did that make sense?" when the student read accurately as well as when they make a mistake so that they develop self-monitoring skills and don't depend on teacher prompting. I tend to ask "why" a lot. Or "how." How did you get that answer? Why do you say that? I ask this in math and reading. I try to ask when I see a mistake and when they get it correct so they learn that higher order thinking process. I want my students to take responsibility for their opinions as well as answers that have right and wrong answers.

One of the problems I encounter when I think about guided reading is that I run out of time for everything I need to accomplish. At least one day a week needs to a be available for assessment, one day to introduce new literacy stations or centers, and I really want/need one day to mix and mingle with students to make sure they are doing the centers correctly and to build relationship. That only leaves two days to listen to students read. Of everything I have read, that is not enough.

I completely agree with the author about the statement that books for independent reading should be easy and the student should enjoy it. Unfortunately some of my daughter's teachers have not allowed her that luxury (?), forcing her to choose books that are at or above her reading level for independent reading. I know this contributes to her dislike of reading. Reading at home for fun should be just that, fun. So that is my goal for her as well for my students. Sometimes I think parenting is the best teacher ever.

What assessments should I use?

I think I would like a commercial assessment package. I do have a reading assessment text with passages to copy for students that I used in college. I think I should have used this last year. I think I will next year. But again, I don't know where I will be and maybe my new school will have a wonderful assessment package in place already. I have also seen some great ones on TpT. I think finding SOMETHING and not having to make it, revise it, make it again, will be a welcome break.

Should I introduce text used for assessment? and Should the student read the text silently first?

I did introduce text just a little last year. I would tell the title and author and say very briefly what it would be about, but I didn't introduce vocabulary. And I did not have students read silently first. I agree that it interferes with getting a true assessment, and most of my students did not have enough practice reading to be able to read silently. Here are the voice levels that we practiced all year long , but level one was particularly difficult for my students to master.

In conclusion, I still have questions, but I have more direction about what assessments I want to use next year and how they will help me. I am intimidated to be in this study with all of you, as you have fantastic TpT stores and offer great resources, and I am just a beginner. I jumped in to this study perhaps without all the facts. Will I be expected to host this one week? This thought terrifies me! Help!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Favorite Things: getting fit

It's a linky party kind of summer! Today I am linking up with Across the Hall to join her favorite things linky.  This weeks is about getting fit. Well, I am hot and then cold when it comes to getting fit. But here goes!
1. Walking is my go-to activity. It is really my only activity.  I know without a doubt that I will not be faithful to other activities if I add them in. Walking is something I can do with my kids if I want, and they want, and well, if we all want. And the dog. Okay, maybe not the dog so much. He wants to go. But his little short dachshund legs just can't do 3 miles very well. Usually, walking = solitude. Peace and quiet and time with God. When I develop a walking routine I become more spiritually fit as well. Sorry, no pic.

2. A good 5-K. Really it is about goal-setting. There are two 5K's I want to do in August so I should really get started now. If I do, I might not embarrass myself. I will never be a speed demon, and I probably won't be able to run 3 miles in the next year of my life. But if I start now I will be able to make a 15 minute mile walking and about a 12-13 minute mile if I do intervals. My favorite thing about this is that I can do this with my oldest daughter.  Last summer we did the Run For your Momma 5-K around the Marion County Lake. Whoo, there are some hills there, for sure!
last August before the race....

3. Good shoes. The last pair I bought were Sauconys but my feet don't really like them. My feet like New Balance shoes the best.
4. Music. I like to have music, but seriously my favorite thing is when I am outdoors and I can just absorb the sounds around me.... birds, the wind, even the trains. So actually, maybe my favorite thing is the serenity and solitude. I'll settle for music when I have to settle for a treadmill. 

5. Treadmill? Hmmm. Walking/running outdoors is what I really like.  But one of the reasons that I like to walk is that I can do it outdoors when weather permits and I can use a treadmill when it's appropriate.

6. Map my Run app. I love this free little app for my phone. It tells me how many miles an hour I am traveling and keeps track of my distance. It is really cool. 

Those are my favorite things about getting fit, or that I use to get fit, or whatever. And I didn't even mention that I once I actually commit, I LOVE the way I feel. I'm off to church, but then I am going to get online and get registered for the "Run for your Momma" 5-K, and the Sedgwick County Glow Run.  Stay tuned, you know I will post more about this! 

Go! Read more! Comment! Become Inspired! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Study: The Next Step in Guided Reading, Chapter One

I decided very last minute to join up with this book study so I scrambled to purchase this book for my Kindle, my first book purchase for the Kindle, I might add. (Not sure what I think yet, I am a highlight and write in the margins sort of gal). Our hosts this week are Kreative in Kinder and Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten.

Chapter One: Preparing for Guided Reading.

What I loved about this chapter:  The structure for introducing everything and how it is introduced slowly, over time, with students gaining more and more independence.  I think I tend of forget that it's my job to teach Kinders how to learn.  I was disappointed last year that they continually failed to take good care of the centers I worked to diligently to create for them. I kept thinking "they should know this by now..." but the truth is that the more I learn about teaching my kiddos to learn and teaching them what I expect, I did not put the same hard work and effort into teaching this as I did in creating the centers in the first place.

Over Spring Break I read The Daily Five and this book follows the same routine of taking 6 weeks to set everything in motion. I really love this. I did not get the opportunity to implement The Daily Five last year and I saw much that I really like about it, like the concept of building stamina. As I read in this Next Step book, I got more and more excited about guided reading this next year and I am excited to implement the learning process.

Today I post as a teacher without a classroom.  I resigned my position to move back to Kansas to my home that I love, where my children thrive and flourish. So.... even though I want to start organizing and preparing my guided reading structures for next year, I don't know where or what grade level I will be teaching.  I do have a few ideas already that will cover many grade levels. One thought I had already.... I need a way to signal that volume is too loud when it starts rising. Last year I caught myself pausing guided reading to remind the same 2 or 3 students that they were not using the appropriate level voice. I need a whole class signal (this will be easy to figure out and establish) and I would like an individual system that I can enforce like a gladiator the first few weeks of school so that I don't need to enforce it all year long. I am not sure what I will do, but these are not grade level specific, so I can figure this out, even without a classroom.

I am nervous about establishing book boxes or bags for students' independent reading. I have a limited library since I have only taught for one year. But I completely believe in this concept which is in this book and also in The Daily Five.

I love how everything is laid out week by week. How to rotate the stations, how to introduce the new workstation (center). By week 5 students are quite independent already. By week 6, you are ready to introduce guided reading. I love all the ideas about ways to signal students not to interrupt during guided reading. I know it is important to introduce this and teach this and teach procedures to go with it. I can decide my procedures now and they will be appropriate to other grade levels. I am thinking about a "do not disturb" light, or "I'm invisible" light. I also like the stop sign idea. I used this at home when I was in college when I would taking tests online. My daughter (in Kindergarten at the time) would want to come in the office during times tests so I made a stop sign for the door. It worked pretty well.

I love how workstations for Primary grades are laid out in this chapter. It makes me feel empowered because I see so many things I can do. I also loved that ideas were provided for independent and for guided reading group activities to review new words.

How Do I Get Everything Done in the Allotted Time?
That one is a great question. Answer:

  • set a timer
  • eliminate activities that do not have educational value (worksheets)
  • make students accountable/make workstations accessible
  • practice transitions until students can do them in under a minute.  The author reminds us that we will get whatever we expect (love this, it is so true).
  • be sure guided reading materials are easily accessible. 
I chuckled about the intercom interruptions part! The school I student taught in would never just randomly interrupt your day with announcements that were not necessary or relevant, but the building I was in last year.... whoo! MY principal would not have interrupted, but I was a Kinder classroom in a building of older students because the district is out of Kindergarten classrooms. (I was on a desert island in other words). Anyway, this is a priceless little tidbit.... work with colleagues and principal to reduce intercom interruptions. Amen!

How Can I Keep the Noise Level within Reasonable Limits?
I love the quiet bell, song, rhyme (etc.) idea for getting the attention of the whole class. And guess what? I don't need a classroom to get this figured out either! I can figure out what I want to do and get it ready and "just do it" whenever I get my classroom, no matter what grade I teach! (Can you hear/feel/smell-- j/k-- the excitement?)

I also love the idea of analyzing interruptions and figuring if there is something that I need to do to help students gain independence.

Well, that is my summary of Chapter one and what stuck out to me. You can probably tell, I am excited and enthused about the entire chapter.  I can't wait for next school year!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five for Friday, Summertime style...

I actually don't know if anyone else is posting Five for Friday all summer long but it's my favorite linky party so I plan to post all summer long. Five for Friday is when you post five random things from your day or your week, from school or from home. I almost always do five from my week. Head over to Doodlebugs and read or link up!

Ah... sweet summertime. I FINALLY feel like I am on summer break.  We are moved back to Kansas in our lovely little town into our oh-so-awesome home. I can unpack or not. Because NOW I am not on a deadline and I am on summer break.

1. Media addicted much? Yes, yes I am. I burned through all my data on my phone in the days that we did not have internet and cable. We lived this past ten months without cable, but we had Netflix, and you have to have internet for that. Ugh. And I blog-stalk about every day. Not to mention cruising ALL THE TIME, and checking email.  How else do I stay in touch?! So yes, the cable guy was a welcome site yesterday! And I sat in front of the tv all day like the television junkie that I am.

2. Clean, crisp, newly painted.... ah! My redhead (who's head is not currently red) left her room in a bit of a bad shape.  It needed painted when we moved.  I feel a little bad about leaving it in the condition we did. But I wouldn't let her set up her bed until we painted those walls. Well, let me tell you~ We rocked that paint job! I painted trim, she rolled the walls.  We were just re-covering with the same color, so we didn't tape. We knocked out the entire room in two hours! Whoot, whoot! Then she got to start moving back in. Next! Next we repainted Punky's green wall. She had a giant sticker of a girl on a horse on the wall and I told the renters they could take it down, so the wall was dirty and pieces of sticker were still stuck.  This was a quicky! I bet it didn't take an hour. I did not watch the clock. 
Rollin', rollin', rollin'

First order of business, set up the bed. Gotta love these sheets. SOMEONE rocked
the tie-dye here.... check out those hearts at the top! 

Little miss Punkin just had to help me out so she did some rolling here. We want to add some
hippie-ish style flowers yet, but I'm thinking about price and saying... Hmmmm.
3. Jumping on the book study bandwagon! I just downloaded the book The Next Step in Guided Reading onto my Kindle. I can't wait to get going with this! This is the beginning for me. I read (and am still reading) The Daily Five over Spring Break. So.... I think guided reading will look a lot different for me this next year and let me tell you, I am so excited about it!

4. Home Sweet Home! I love this house. It has never been just a home. I was so excited to teach school I was willing to leave my beautiful home, but I am was heartbroken.  And I am thrilled to be back. I still love school teaching and I now know that this is what I was made to do.  I have NEVER felt more like I was doing what God made me to do than I did this year teaching school. But I am so happy to be home. Picture to come after I plant my flowers and my new spirea since mine died in my absence (in the words of my kids.... sad-face). 

I got flowers planted, bird feeders up, my ducks are in a row (haha)...
I put up my little garden statue and my bunny that I got from my Aunt for graduation with my education degree.

Can you even see my new spirea bush? It's there! 
5. Gratitude.  Today I have an attitude of gratitude. Let me tell you.... this is not my nature. My nature is a little bit whiny, a little bit pessimistic, and I tend to find the flaws and obsess on them. But I don't have to choose that outlook on life. I can choose gratitude. The truth is, I ALWAYS have something to be grateful for. Right now, all three of us are "flying high" on the fabulous home we live in. But trust me, this too shall pass. And then I will have to choose my attitude again. Every letter or phone call I receive saying that a teaching position has been filled and I was not chosen for the job gives me indigestion and a heart-wrenching feeling in my gut. I have to choose to trust God that a job, THE JOB, is still out there. I know God will take care of us, He always does. I am trying really hard not to push and push and manipulate and to trust that God is really in control. Know that and acting on that are two very different things. Today I have to believe that God will bring to me that teaching job that will suit me best. 

What is it your are grateful for today? What are you "naturally" grateful for? What do you have to choose to be grateful for?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

This girl has been thinking

Today was a lazy day. I got some organization done before the cable guy got here.  Now I've been sitting here being on Summer Break for the rest of the day. Yep. Numbing my mind out with cable and internet. Absolutely. So not a LOT of thinking happened today. But here is what I am thinking, I need some professional development. The two that interest me the most are............. (drum roll please): Teach Like A Pirate; and More about Guided Reading. Now comes the hard part. Choosing and choosing quickly. Tonight is the night. I am not sure how long the book studies are open, but both have a lot of postings today so whatever I buy, if I buy it today and read it tonight.... I should still able to jump on board. What do you think y'all? What I really want to know is: have you done one of these books in a book study? What should I tackle first because I can't do both and still settle in and give myself a summer break. So if you have thoughts, don't hesitate to share them with me... I really want to know!
p.s. Today when I talking to the cable guy, I could REALLY tell I lived farther south this past year, that twang ain't goin' away soon.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"My Teacher Always Says...." A linky party.

I love linky parties! I am joining Forever in First for a her "My Teacher Always Says" linky. I will share a few of those things I say over and over and over again.
The one that all my students can finish for me is this:  "Drink lots of water. Do your homework. Go to bed early." I think that most children don't drink enough water. I remind my students every day to practice their reading homework.  Most students don't get enough sleep. I talked to a parent about their son falling asleep in class and the parent really didn't know what was an appropriate bed time was.

I am always talking about their "jobs." I always say: "What is your job." or "Do your job." Then I usually say something about when they do their job they have to do their best. Most of them can finish sentences with "best" or "job."

Another one: "Who's responsibility is it?" I remind them frequently that it is my responsibility to teach them but it is their responsibility to take their homework home, to do the work, and to bring it back. The responsibility and job phrases are relatively interchangeable.

I know there are other things I say besides just our routines and procedures, but I can't think of them. We use a voice level system and I often ask, "What level voice do we use right now?"

Oh! My favorite thing I say! "We can practice flexibility (and they have to flex their knees when we say it)." "When plans change...." (and we sort of hold our hands up like we don't know), " we go with the flow. (we move our hands like a river flowing when we say that)."

What do you always say to your class? Hop over and read and link up!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Five for Friday (on Sunday)

Friday was load the Uhaul day and Saturday was move to Kansas day, so I am finally going to get to post on here on Sunday! One my favorite things every week is to hop over to Doodlebugs and read about everyone's week. So head over and read and if you are a teacher, you should link up!

1. Moving! Aaaaaaa! And Ahhhhh! I hate moving. Ever. And unless I get magically wealthy and can afford to build my dream house in the country I am not planning to willingly move again. My kids are going to drag me out of here kicking and screaming when they haul me to a nursing home.
I let Carolyn stay in Kansas with her Dad so I had to pack up her room in OK. This is the pic of the finished product. Yes, her Tie-Dye curtains are coming with us! :)

Sammy literally could not find a comfy place to sleep so he crawled in my basket of fuzzy socks to take a cat nap.

The oak tree that was planted the year we first moved here.  It is growing, ever so slowly.

Hooray! Our earthly possessions are arriving back in McPherson! 
Uhaul? We don't need no stinking Uhaul! Somehow our Uhaul order disappeared like magic. I couldn't find any record on my computer, Uhaul had no record at all.  It was a fiasco, disastrous dramatic event. There were no Uhauls available within a 150 mile radius of Guymon and we were put on a waiting list with 20 people ahead of us. So thanks to my teaching partner we thought to go ask a local car dealership and they were willing to empty the equipment they had stored in this trailer and rent it to us. I have a LOT of stuff, and we have house FULL of furniture. But my fam packed with extreme expertise and miraculously everything fit!
It did not take Sam very long to settle in. I didn't even have the top sheet on yet! And he got photo-bombed my a cute little Punkin!
2. Happy Father's Day Dad. My Dad has worked really hard to help me this last year. He worked on my house to make it nicer for the renters after I moved and he worked and worked and worked to help us get back here when we realized we were moving back.
At the restaurant after the trailer and vehicles were empty and we were officially back in our home.
If he looks tired, he is, we all were (....and my daughter stole his cap).
3. Here's to summer break!! Hats off to all your teachers who teach well into June! Wow! School was out May 24 for me and I was completely packed and out of my classroom by the first of June.  But I was packing and orchestrating a move and stressed and not feeling like it was summer break. Now I feel a big "Ah"! I feel like summer just started. Even though I woke up pretty early today, I didn't have to set an alarm and I don't have to stay up half the night getting things done. The moving crew thought I was weird yesterday because I made them take almost all the boxes to the basement.  But I learned this trick when I moved in here.  Just put the furniture in the room and then bring in one box at a time and you feel "settled" almost immediately. That was one of the best moving tips anyone could ever give to me. So now I'll slowly start to unpack and organize and it will go much faster because I am not fighting with boxes at every turn.

4. Projects to Pin and make!! My summer "to do" list just grew! Or officially kicked off or something! I might just get to participate in "Made it Monday" this summer. Whoo! I have some grim reaper towels to make. Not really grim reaper, but I made a hooded towel for Punky a couple summers ago and I used a pretty big towel for the hood and it appears to be a bit grim reaper-ish. My friend in OK bought towels for me to make her one and it didn't get done yet and I bought stuff to make one for my teenager. So... that is project number one. I saw a super cute tablecloth on pinterest that was made from bandannas.  I decided I can make a comforter for Punky out of bandannas. A long time ago already (before we moved to OK) I cut pieces to make myself a purse. Since I hate patterns I am not exactly sure how I want to do everything, so it has just stayed in my sewing stuff and has not gotten done. And then there's the teacher clipboard that I never have made, the mod-podge one. I bought the stuff when I was student teaching. I "need" to do that. 

5. I still need a job. I think I use the wrong words in interviews. "What makes you be sure to cover everything and make sure your students get what they need?" Pressure. I think the right word was passion.  It is driven by my sense of responsibility to the little people that I teach.  I don't wake up at night wondering if my Kinders from this year are ready for next year, but I think about it.  Did I cover this enough? Did little guy or gal who struggles get enough support in this area? What if someone "fell through the cracks" and isn't ready for the first grade? Will they have a great first grade teacher to get them on-track? Will it affect the rest of their life? I feel a great responsibility to get these students ready for the next year of school, and that does create an internal pressure.  What I hope that what shows through all my bumbling in interviews (seriously, some sort of an idiot takes over my mind and body in interviews) is my passion for my kiddos and my insane desire to see them succeed. Getting a job offer will not be the result of how great I interview (ever probably) but a result of the interviewer seeing God's purpose in me and that I have great love my students and feel a sense of responsibility to cover what my school and state expects of me as their teacher. So... I know it is at God's feet.  And I hope I will be able to sleep at night and not worry too much because I did work really hard this year and I put in some insane hours as a first year teacher and I need this summer break to be a break. Can I get an amen? 

What are you all doing this summer? What have you accomplished on your bucket list? How are you rejuvenating and relaxing? What are you doing to be ripe and ready for the next school year? What are you doing to further your education as a teacher? I really want to know! Thanks for stopping by! I love to read your comments!

Monday, June 10, 2013


I keep telling myself that I should be enjoying my summer break. But I have plenty to pack and a Uhaul coming in four days. So the alarm went off and I am up.  It is really hard to focus and stay on track.  There is Netflix, which has gotten me hooked on Breaking Bad (I have no responsibility in this, it's all Netflix' fault), and there is of course, the internet, which keeps me connected with you all and job possibilities and my facebook friends and the pinterest possibilities; then there is.... well, anything else in the world. Food. I am obsessed with food. And my kids are gone and that is actually taxing, not refreshing. So... packing needs to happen.  I am very excited about moving back to my house in Kansas. I am not very excited about packing up and moving up and cleaning this place. But I am seriously out of time. And still no motivation. I am not sure why I am blogging this even.  I wish I were blogging some of the great things I hope to do over the summer, but they haven't happened yet. Check out my Pinterest boards here or go to the very cool button at the top of the page and look around. I have a lot of education boards.  I hope to organize them differently soon, now that I have a little bit of actual teaching experience I know a little more about how I'd like them to be organized.

Predicted high today of 105.  Guess I better enjoy the open windows while I can.  Happy Summer everyone. Next week Monday I plan to sleep in. But the great thing about summer break is that I can always change it up if I want to. I can get up early and walk or garden or craft or organize ideas for next school year.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five for Friday!

Packing? Who needs to finish packing when I could be blogging? Lol! Five for Friday is about five random things from my day or week.  In case you haven't read this before, this is my very favorite linky and I faithfully post it every week. So.... head over to Doodlebugs and read everybody's Five for Friday!
1. It's officially ours again! Our house in McPherson.  On June 22 we will have been the home owners of our Habitat for Humanity house for five years.  This house has always been a miracle and we've always appreciated it. But I wanted to teach SO BADLY that I convinced myself that it was "just a house." I had it partly right, I am sure that God had a plan for us this year.  One thing is, we now now have a new appreciation for our home.  We did a little jig on Friday when we got there. One of my favorite things about it my little gardens.  My strawberry patch is three years old this season and it is growing like wildfire! We picked strawberries and ate them like candy while we were there.

Sweet like candy.... 
2. Summer Bucket List.  On Monday I had a job interview. I am not certain what happens to me in interviews because job offers don't follow.  I am not trying to be ignorant, I know there is a lot I have to learn, but the truth is, I am good teacher. I invest in my students.  Being a teacher makes me a better person. But I digress. After the job interview, my daughters (all three of them) and I and my grandkids went to the zoo.  It was a perfect day for it! How many times have been to the Sedgwick County Zoo when it is 100 degrees out? (answer: too many times to count).  But it was only in the low 80's. It was fabulous.

3. I am the old cat lady this week. It's just Sam and I down here in the panhandle packing up. He's been extremely affectionate and when he's not sitting ON me or putting a paw on me or touching me in some way, he is sitting close to me. He's a little freaked out about no kids and no dog and all this packing. Poor Sammy! I love him dearly and I'm so grateful for his company to ease the loneliness. I really don't know what to do without my girls.

4. So far I have seen about a bazillion great new ideas for next year. I missed the linky parties I wanted to participate in, they are closed now. But I have some ideas for things I want to change next year.  I was told that my cooperating teacher would influence my teaching more than anything/anyone else. That is SO true. I was so fortunate to have an AWESOME cooperating teacher. In fact, I had awesome support for every experience I had from internships to cooperating teaching. I heard some unfortunate stories and I am grateful for the experiences I had. I learned from the best because great teaching is what was modeled for me.  Oh man, off track again! Next year, I will do some things differently.  I've been reading The Daily Five and I've gotten some great ideas there. I found all my Kagan structures and I've been reviewing them, and (of course) I've been stalking blogs and haunting Teachers pay Teachers. I can't tell you for sure what I will do next school year because it will depend on the school district I become a part of.  The first thing I will do is submerse myself in their curriculum and learn as much as I can about it as I can and start planning and curriculum mapping. Then I'll figure out how the changes I want to make fit the school and the plans I am making. Next I will take things that worked well last year and prepare those for a new school year.

5. I am out of random things. This is a first for me. I can blog about ANYTHING. All the time. Yep. I'm sick of typing about moving and I am sure you all are sick of reading it. But it consumes me.  And it will be over in a very short amount of time. Here are some non-school things on my mind, and they will affect me as a teacher: my health and how it is necessary to get out there and do something (walk, walk, walk); spirituality and my need for God and for spiritual food: it was great to go to church last week in my own church; attitude of gratitude: my attitude determines everything else: my ability to be a good Mom, a good teacher, a good citizen, and a spiritually fit human being. If I can keep an attitude of gratitude, I will have the gumption to achieve the rest of my goals, desires, and dreams. I will have what it takes to be that fully invested teacher, mother, friend.

Happy Friday! I can't wait to read everyone's Five for Friday!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Favorite Things.... Morning Must Haves

Hooray! A new linky to get excited about. These are a few of my favorite things! This week's theme is "morning must-haves!"
Here are the guidelines:
Please be sure to…
1} Use the pink linky button above (okay, I didn't know how to insert it as a button...)
2} Link back here with your specific blog post {not your general blog URL}
3} Come back and find a few new, or favorite blogs, and stop by and see their favorite things and leave a sweet comment or two!  Everyone loves a comment! {Me too…hint, hint}
I just found this blog through a couple others blogs I follow, I guess that is how the bloggy-land world works! I would encourage everyone to head over to Across the Hall in 2nd Grade and read and link up. 
Rain or shine, sleet or snow.... coffee is always appropriate in the morning. In fact, it is a must. If my students want "nice Ms. Horn" to show up, they will understand about the coffee. Here is my all-time favorite coffee: 

On school days I always grab a quick look at the weather and sometimes check my email or facebook.  One non-school mornings my favorite way to start my day is a cup of coffee and some blog stalking.  Yes, I said it, I am a stalker. I love stalking teacher blogs to find how you all implement centers or guided reading, how you handle different discipline issues, or what is new in your room or what TpT products you've purchased recently.  
I am trying to be healthy and eat breakfast. I know all the facts about it jump-starting my metabolism and giving my brain what it needs, but I just don't like breakfast. Well, around 10:30 or later it starts to sound good and during the school year that is about my lunchtime.  In summer I usually make myself an egg and some toast. During the school year I try to at least eat a relatively healthy granola bar. 
In summer I also try to get in walking. I am slacking again (already) and I hope to get back on track, maybe tomorrow.  Walking makes me feel good and gives me more lasting energy than anything else I know of. It also helps me with weight control and gives me a better sense of who I am. 

Of course, during the school year I put on a little makeup everyday. I have sensitive skin so I use Clinique. I can't use the water-proof or smudge-proof mascaras, they irritate my eyes.  So I use the stuff that runs and hope my allergies don't get to me or that I don't have too many of those heart-felt weepy moments during the day (and I am at the age where sometimes hormones are heightened, so it happens more than I ever anticipate). I will always be an emotional person.... one who cries because she's happy, because she's sad, because the Walt Disney Movie is SAD (Fox and the Hound.... I cry every time). I didn't wear makeup for many years, but becoming a professional forced me to change that, and let's face it, I am not as young as I used to be, my face really benefits from a little makeup. So the truth is, I have grown to like wearing makeup, and how I feel about myself when I do. But I still give my face a break when I don't have to wear it over the summer and on days off. My sensitive skin needs the rest sometimes. 

There's my "must-haves" this week. I hope you will hop over and read some more! In the future, I hope that one of my morning must-haves will include a daily meditation/devotional/spiritual reading. I have the best of intentions, and I do remember to say a prayer before I walk into that classroom every day, but right now I don't remember to pull out a devotional every morning and spend that time with God. So I hope to change that this summer, and I hope that one day soon that will be on my "morning must-haves."

What is it that you "must have" every morning?