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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Five for Friday on Saturday, September 28

It's time for my five random things from my week. So hop over to Doodlebugs and read everyone's Five for Friday!

1. Guided reading in all its glory.... this week for Second grade guided reading, we tackled a story that ended up taking two days to discuss. This left a little extra time to dig deeper into comprehension. So students wrote two sentences about the book and made a matching illustration. I was going to just post one photo but I realized my students would be so disappointed if it wasn't theirs! So, here they are....

I love how you can tell that the people are teeny tiny by comparison to the flower! 

This is the book they read and were writing about. Fun story! 
2. Here's what my area is starting to look like.... chaos!!!

It actually looks somewhat organized here, but you can see that the shelves are getting full as I add tub after tub of stuff. Here's what a typical day looks like in order of the shelving: top shelf left to right: First grade (8:15-9:15), Kindergarten 9:20-9:50, Second grade 10-10:55.  Middle shelf: Third grade: 11-11:30 guided reading, and 11:32-11:55 third grade tier 2 interventions. Fourth grade guided reading tub is in middle of the middle shelf and it is at 1:30 and first grade tier 2 interventions are in the blue tub.  Since I took the picture I also have added a packet for 2nd grade interventions to their tub! We will have approximately half of our guided reading time dedicated to tier 2 interventions and then I'll add some very customized interventions in the afternoons around the fourth grade group and first grade interventions as well as squeezing in planning times and helping classroom teachers with testing. So.... the real deal is that I am getting BUSY. And I like it like this. I am also starting to get the hang of things! Whoot! 

3. My little Punkin is in 4th grade in another school. They just finished a research project about animals of South America. They did a wax museum on Friday to display their knowledge.  You could go around form desk to desk to hear about each animal. My Punkin researched the Golden Lion Tamarin. I surprised her when I got to come and see her presentation. It was a great "Mom moment." 
Here is Punky ready to tell me all about herself as the golden lion tamarin

Here is the real deal... golden lion tamarin.
4. Happy Fall Y'all! It was quite cool when I got up this morning and it's almost noon and still lovely! As you can tell, the predicted high is only in the low 70's. I feel like I have unlimited options today. This prospect is really quite exciting! I feel some fall cleaning perhaps and some fall-ish foods for sure coming on! 

5. I have resisted the Thirty-One trend so far. Until now. But a teacher in our building had a party on facebook this week and I jumped on the band wagon. I will soon have this: 
Of course, mine will have the name Carrie on it in hot pink.
Enjoying this beautiful day and getting ready to make some cupcakes to decorate with my Punky! Today is the first day of the rest of my life, I hope that it is for you too! Blessings to you all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

5.5 for Friday...

It is Friday! Here are my five. And don't forget to head to Doodlebugs to read more and maybe add your own Five random things from your own week!

1. I got a huge compliment this week!! One of my guided reading kiddos is the child of a teacher where I work. And she told me that she thinks I am doing great with her son. Whoo-hoo! Made me happy! :)

2. I am really, really aware that I am a Kindergarten teacher! One of the groups I teach is a fourth grade group.  I struggle and I struggle and I struggle. Today my lead teacher pointed out that there were additional lesson plans right in front of me in the teacher's manual for that grade level.  I think I'm struggling because my brain just doesn't do intermediate. Okay, the real truth, is I think I would like upper grades because of all the super pbl they could do. But the transition from high 5's and "way to go!"'s is tough because I don't really know what motivates 4th graders and I don't know how to build a relationship with them in the short time I have with them.

3. This summer I joined a book study. It was for this book.

Yeah, I dropped out once it got past the primary stuff. At first I was in limbo, not having a job and not knowing what grade level I would be teaching, then I just lost interest. I hate to admit that considering what I am doing now~ working in the reading room as a reading assistant. So I work with students in guided reading groups and I work with small groups to offer tiered support. So.... in light of my discouragement, I think I should pick that book up again and finish it. And take the teaching to heart. I know that my school does the very best, research based and supported teaching that there is. I can see it every day and I saw it when I was away, I know my colleagues got tired of hearing "at the school I came from...." So, no pressure, but it's time to start shooting for the stars and hope to meet those oh-so-high expectations in the district I work in. So... back to reading! 

4. Thank God for cooler weather! I feel my mood lighten and my energy return when the weather cools off and behaves like fall! It was down to 59 last night and it is going to cool off again tonight! Tomorrow night "the fam" is going to meet out at my Uncle's pond and I might even need a sweatshirt! I am so excited! 
5. Random fact of the week: I love baseball and I am glued to the television for post-season play! I love watching the Royals this year! For the first time in a long time we have a team! Whoot! So you folks who are all fired up because football is back, I can finally relate because that's me and baseball at the end of the season this year.

So that covers my five. But here's a 5.5 or little bonus random thing. I never think of my own ideas. ever. I am a TpT consumer. Hats off to you ladies who make all those wonderful products that I purchase and thanks ever-so-much for all those freebies you willingly share. But this week, I thought of a game idea for blending sounds for cvc words. So if I ever figure out how to make it, I will share it. And then if I ever get enough good ideas, I will start a TpT store, but that is a long way in the future!! It's a game that could be done in a small group setting, maybe in a partner/center setting or as a whole group. So if you want to know my idea and make your own, you can email me or leave a comment. 

Have a fabulous weekend everyone! I have a super fun-filled day planned for tomorrow.... We are headed to the 'boro (That's Hillsboro) to see the Arts and Crafts fair and some of my favorite family (my Aunt is here from St. Louis!), and then off to a family affair at the farm Saturday night (with a sweatshirt, yeah!).  

These are the memories captured through photos from last time we were out at the farm.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

This week's Five...

Here are my five random things from the week. I have to say up front that I am sad that my five holds less school and more personal on a weekly basis than what I wish. But this is at least partly because of not being in a classroom this year. I am feeling more than a little bit lost. I have lost my footing. But I want to stay in the habit and I want to participate because it keeps me in touch with more teachers which will continue to help me grow in the future. So.... here's my Five For Friday.  We went out with my family last night, so I'm posting on Saturday (no apologies). To read more or link up with your own Five, visit Doodlebugs page!

1. Changes to my blog. Check out my header now. It's now "officially" Education in Ms. Horn's world instead of Kindergarten in Ms. Horn's world. The lovely Lauren from Teach*Pray*Love Designs updated it for me! Hats off to her for taking the time to help me when she was already swamped with student teaching! Thanks so much Lauren!

2. A new project. I posted on facebook a social media last week that I need a project. After 3 years of going back to school and juggling kids and a job on top of that and then being a first year teacher last year (and still being a Mom), I really don't know what to do with myself with no lesson plans, no evening research, no long hours, no teaching responsibilities, and more than enough time, er, just the right amount of time, with my children.  I am discouraged and depressed. Yes, really. Are there things I can do? Yes. Is my office still in disarray and not fully moved into? yes. But seriously, I need a project. Project found. The guy who takes care of my lawn, the wonderful Sean Simpson, pointed out that if we don't haul in some dirt this fall, we could face cracked sidewalks over the winter due to how much the dirt has settled. So.... now we are looking into hauling in dirt, putting in a patio (whoot!), and planting grass this fall. I am thinking we need to put in a pergola too. Wouldn't that just make sense? And since we are going to be out in the wilderness hunting for flat limestone for patio rocks, I think we should also grab some less than flat rocks to build a retaining wall for my south flower bed to hold in the dirt over there. Right?
We HAVE to fill in dirt under here or it's in danger of cracking in the cold.
The dirt has settled all way back to the driveway.  So.... time to do some work! 

I will probably have to say goodbye to my strawberry patch, because the
dirt has settled here too. I don't know how I feel about this, except that
I am thinking this is a great place to put my PATIO.... 

Side note.... I know most people "love" to work on their own yard, but with the lawn mower that I currently own, I don't. I hate it. I would rather do without than give up my lawn care. And that is where we are at currently. We are doing without some things and holding tight til pay day, but I am still paying for lawncare. Yes, it is that important to me. We still have lawn care and cable. And I don't feel guilty. (maybe a little bit guilty, just not guilty enough to give it up).

3. Classroom management. Something I "pride" myself on being strong at. It has gone by the wayside. I am completely lost. What does classroom management look like when you work with small groups of different ages all the time? Because it isn't really the same. It's more about reinforcing what is already expected in the classroom. Also, I am fairly decent at motivating students at the Kindergarten level, but what does that look like for say... third grade? Because they are minimally motivated for the sticker on their charts, it's not like gold, like it is in Kindergarten. I am exploring options. I blogged about it here. And I would love to hear teachers weigh in, especially if you teach small groups at different grade levels! So comment, or link me to your blog or send me an email! Really, I appreciate the input.

4. Falling in love with not-so-early primary and intermediate grades. It is a huge shift in mindset for me. I taught preschool in a daycare for four years at the three year old level, then I worked in a Pre-K fours class, then I taught Kinder. My heart is truly with these little gems. But I am seeing the value, more and more each day, or the fun factor, of teaching the upper grades.  I am enthralled with watching the brain wake up and learn to process at a higher order thinking level than at primary grades. And I am loving that these students are responsible for their own learning, the teacher is the facilitator, but the student has the responsibility with what they do with the teaching the teacher provides.

5. I am really this person: Whatever you have, you will wish for the other. Last year, all I could think about was "being home." Now I am home, all I can think about is my friends, colleagues and Kinders in the panhandle. I miss them all terribly. I can't wait for my kids to grow up so I can go wherever I want to go! Seriously, that is the truth. (I know... relish every moment, but when I am an empty nester, look out world, here I come). It's hard to focus on gratitude when you are wishing for something other than what you have. I have a mind that sabotages me at every turn but I have the privilege of deciding what to focus on today. I can choose to be grateful for all I have right here, right now. That is my goal. I am choosing to be grateful for all I learned last year, for my teaching partner, for my kiddos, for the friends who saved my drowning soul.  I am grateful for this year, for less responsibility, my lovely home, my children's happiness and relative peace of mind, being close to family and a recovery community that makes my life infinitely better. But it's a choice today. I can wallow and wish, or choose to be content.

Sorry to say... not too much of my random, or not-so-random, week was captured through photos. I know next year will be different, but I can't guarantee that next week will be different.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tell me your positive behavior incentives

Positive behavior management. Rewards. Incentives. Classroom management. Help. My mind has totally gone blank.  My thought process is that students need to be motivated to follow directions, not afraid of repercussions if they don't do what is expected. And I also believe that students need to take responsibility for their choices, even if they that means they have consequences, not just positive incentives.  When I have been able to focus on positive behavior reinforcement, I have had success! But here's the thing... my mind is blank this week. I keep thinking to myself, find something positive, find something positive, find something positive. But what I hear myself saying sounds more like this: "If you make the choice to interrupt our learning time, you will be choosing to....(fill in the blank~ walk at recess, practice correct behavior at recess, fill out a green card)."  Why would I be confessing this to the world? Because I need you all to tell me things I have never heard, maybe things I have heard before, ideas I have heard of or those I have not. I don't care if you think... "gosh, everyone knows that!" I still want to hear it! Please, please, please.... I am not quite ready to do my first linky party, but if you have ideas, you could leave them in comments, leave a link in comments or send me an email. I will take your ideas to heart! I promise!

Thanks wonderful bloggy-land teachers.  I know you will come through.


Well, no one has offered me a magic answer since I posted this about a day ago.  I have been wracking my brain all day. Here are the things I have come up with. One of the teachers that I interned under used classroom connections. They could make a connection if they were following directions. When the connections were all made, the group earned a reward and the class got new groups and started over. I think this can work in a small group setting in that when they make all their connections the group earns a reward.

The other thing I am thinking about it this: students can earn "smiley tickets" when they are doing what is expected and especially if they do something above and beyond the expectation! I am thinking of giving the students in my group smiley's when they come in, every time I have to stop teaching because they are not on task or following directions, I will take one back and once they are gone, they will start earning laps to walk at recess. After earning 2 laps at recess, they will also fill out a green behavior card in their room. This feels proactive, puts the responsibility back on the students and gives them the opportunity to earn some extras both from me and the classroom teacher (smiley tickets earn stickers on charts which leads to rewards in the classroom).  Okay, I know y'all didn't help me out here, but I feel better. I have a plan to try something new. Can I get a hearty "whoo-hoo?"

Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Friday! Friday! Whoop!

Can you hear me singing? Can you see me doing a little jig? This makes it time for what? Time to link up with DoodleBugs and read about everyone's week! Today my lead teacher was gone and then my "room mate" went home sick, leaving the monkey to run the zoo.  Woo-hoo. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough to do, but didn't clock out until 15 minutes later than I normally clock out. But we might be out of busy work next time there's a lull in the activity!
Five for Friday

1.  Monday should start off wild and crazy, our first "official" day of guided reading groups. I am nervous, it is one group after another in the mornings! We will have a few minutes to catch our breath between the first and second groups, but no time what-so-ever between the next couple groups. Yikes! I just remembered that we have a meeting between the first two groups! I am glad that my table looked like this before I clocked out today:
1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade.... ready to go! 
2. Finished our benchmark testing!!!! I won't be looking at THIS screen again for awhile!

This was actually fairly painless and I got to meet a lot of students. I can't wait to build a relationship with them!

3. This was my week of "morning supervision." I read to Second grade students in the reading room from 7:45 until 8 in the mornings.  I was terrified to start this! I have no idea why, because I LOVE to read to kids. The first five minutes there are not a lot of students there, they are trickling in. So I started off reading out of Chrysanthemum, my all time favorite book. Then we switched over to Spencer's Adventures: Hair in the Air! by Gary Hogg.  Have you read this series? I could only find Hair in the Air, and The Great Toilet Paper Caper. But these two books are great read aloud books especially for primary grades. They are hilarious and the chapters are short. We ran out of time. I have offered for the person who has supervision next week to read, but if she doesn't finish it we will finish next time I have supervision.

Here my Punky is wearing the wig I wore to read yesterday! I wore it so the students
who may not know what a wig/rug/toupee is could see one (and because
there is more laughter when I wear it).
4. We did a lot of organizing information yesterday and today after we finished all our testing. Organizing data so we can put it to work! That is what data-driven education is all about! Love it!

5. I am trying to stay focused on the positive and keep some semblance of serenity. I have already discovered the joys (?) of working with a lot of women who have their own sets of worry and problems; that I am still super insecure and want everyone to "like" me, somehow that means I am a competent teacher.... haha. I am aware that most everything is outside my control, with the noted exception of the attitude I take toward life, that is the one thing I have control of.  And how great is my life anyway? I pray I never forget this and that I can remember to say the serenity prayer often and offer grace to those around me.

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you had a blessed week and that you've gotten to a calm place with your class family! I am grateful for my job, but I miss being part of the teaching community from the trenches. I am grateful that I can be the best I can be and hopefully my teaching skills will shine through and I will be offered a teaching position in the district! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Positive Points Monday

I found a new favorite Linky! Positive Points Monday from Permanently Primary. I liken this to a gratitude Sunday, I love focusing on the positive in my life every Sunday. Here is her only rule for this linky: The only rule is that your positive points must be from SCHOOL!  My family or my dog or the weather or a vacation are definitely positives, but sometimes we need to find the positives in the negative environment.  Make sense?

So here goes some positive love: 

1. I work with a great team!! This year I am not teaching, I took a position that is paid hourly but requires a teaching license.  It is a reading assistant job. The specialist I work under is not only amazing at her job, but she's a happy person that I enjoy seeing every day. Everyone is friendly and helping me adjust! It would be easy for me to focus on the fact that I don't have my own classroom this year and to get discouraged by this, but I am trying to focus on the positives, and this is truly a blessing.

2. I will have a full toolbag next year! I will have more knowledge about data-driven reading placement and strategies than I could get in college or in my own classroom. So this will be a great strength for me! 

3. I don't have lesson plans or grading this year! Whoot! When I come home, my time is my own! Quite frankly, after all the time we spent at school last year, this is good for our family. But I can still easily feel sorry for myself that I am not in the trenches with my colleagues, so I remind myself often of the great-ness of being able to take it easy this year. 

4. Finally, I know it is supposed to be school related, but I lead a great life today. Less drama, more calm. This happens when I let God be in control, and that can happen at school or home or one or neither. It is entirely up to me as to how much I want to trust and let go of my own agenda. I am positively loving that God cares about me at work or at home. 

Tell us something positive today about your life at school! Link up! I can't wait to "hear" it! 

September Currently... a linky party

It's that time again! Time to link up with Farley for September Currently.
 I haven't turned on the television or any music yet this morning and the windows are open so I can hear all the birds and especially the turtle doves. Do you think they know it's dove season and they are safe and sound in town?

I am loving this weather! That is all the there is to that! 

I have plenty of "shoulds" in my life. Things I should do at home: laundry, cleaning, organizing, settling in, etc. Things I should do to be a better mom, which mostly equal time, time, time. And things I should do to be a better teacher and be prepared to go into my own classroom again next year (that is my goal...): finish reading the book I started this summer on guided reading, re-read some textbook information, etc. 

We need to add a vehicle to our family. My teenager is going to driving school this next weekend. And at some point after that will be driving and obtaining her license. Well, in Kansas, it is really unheard of that your child would not be driving until they are seventeen. And there are some reasons for it and they involve responsible parenting (or lack of) and so I won't tell on myself any further here. But the point is, if we are going to have two drivers here then we need two vehicles. I've been looking at new cars online. I really, really, really want a new car. My reasoning is a little sloppy though. Next year, when this child goes to college, I will still have parental responsibilities but I will not have her child support income. So my reasoning goes like this: this may be the only opportunity I will ever have to purchase a new car. You don't really have to tell me how skewed that is, it is really messed up. But I've been researching cars that get over 30 mpg on the highway that don't cost an arm and a leg to purchase. If I am looking at spending $8-10,000 on a solid used family car, then it stands to reason that I would consider spending $12-15,000 on a new car that gets great gas mileage. One thing I hate about my Saturn, it sits really low to the ground. When we go on road trips, like the trip to the panhandle we have planned for October, it is scary to be so low to the ground on the road with all those semis. Also, it is harder to see when/if it is safe to pass. The next thing I hate about my Saturn, it broke down on Friday. I had to have it towed and a mechanic hasn't even looked at it yet. I think I will have to borrow my youngest daughter's bike to get to work tomorrow (I would ride my own if it hadn't gotten stolen this summer). So... we are in need of a car that is reliable! And I am in want for a new car.  I have never owned a new vehicle and if I buy one this year, it will likely be the only new vehicle we ever buy.  Because I will drive it into the ground until there are no more miles left to put on it. Amen?

Here is what Farley said about that last entry on Currently: I decided to make the last question
pick things you would love to accomplish this month...
things that bring YOU a happy heart
you have to be happy to make others happy and a happy heart is a good place to start.

I think that walking is, for me, a self-nurturing act. When I take care of my body, I feel better, and it is a way to value myself, build up my physical stamina, wake my brain, and spend a few minutes with God without kids, or computers, or text messages to interrupt. 

My heart would be happier to be home if I finally got the rest of the house settled. And paint those places that need painted and put up the pictures and just finish moving in in general. Lose the piles and boxes and laundry baskets full of stuff that still linger in the office and my bedroom. 

I want some things. A new car, but that doesn't count as a "little me thing." I want new walking shoes, and a few new clothes for work/school, and a new pair of jeans just for fun, and a new book or two (okay, okay, or FIVE), and I want a new "favorite" coffee cup.  I want to buy myself a cup from the Well. They have the neatest cups, both for work and for home. I have heard rumors that the Well might be closing, pray it ain't so. It's a good, safe place for kids to meet, for adults to mingle, a great place for conversation or solitude. I want a few things for the house and I think that Red and I should get to replace our stolen bikes. It makes me angry that we have had bikes stolen, again. We had two bikes stolen the first summer that we lived here. One was recovered, one wasn't.  This year, no bikes were recovered. *sigh* I want another new bike. And a safe neighborhood to keep them in.