Social Media Icons

 photo CarrieH-Email_zps4241b962.png  photo CarrieH-Facebook_zpsf1571023.png  photo SocialMediaIcon1_zps5c7e5298.png  photo CarrieH-SocialMediaIcon_zps6e33496e.png

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ready, Set, GO!

Off and running....

Tonight we have a community open house.  We are hosting it in order to raise awareness of the Project-based learning school, and increase interest.  No biggie, right? Except that I have been moving over my teaching supplies and emptying the basement and it was piled high with stuff! Not to mention.... new-to-me classroom, there was no way I could just leave it the way it was. Bookshelves needed moved around. Extra tables moved out, and reading area firmly established!

Since I have been working at the daycare and have also been fighting some vehicle issues, I haven't been to the school as often or as early as I would have liked to have been. It made for a couple long days and some long nights.

I am sure this is not the finished finished product, because I know things I still want to do before school starts, but here is the before-it's-totally-finished finished product. This is where it shapes up and looks like a classroom and is ready for people to come and explore!

You can see the back 1/2 (3/4?) of the room from here

Reading area


Front 1/2 of room as viewed from the bathroom door.
In the corner not visible is some pretty amazing cubbies and coat hooks, I will have to have to add them and my desk area. Now to answer the big questions in life, like.... should I take the Keurig to school?

Sorry folks, no time for more today. Maybe I can reflect tomorrow, but the linky will be over. Sad and relieved at the same time!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What or where do I want to get to someday?

Today's challenge prompt is: Create a "someday" list. What or where do you want to get to someday, personally or professionally?

Wow. This would be even more fun if I hadn't slept until almost 7. Shame on me, right? I mean, these prompts have been available to look at and think about throughout the entire challenge. But I really haven't looked ahead.


  • I would like to be published. I know my blogging has been hurried and harried during this challenge, but I love to write. I love the "sound" of my own voice. I would love to put together a collection of.... not sure what you'd call it.... short stories, inspirational stories, snippets into life situations. 
  • I still dream of living in the country. I don't know if that is a real possibility for this gal, but it is still a dream of mine. 
  • I would like to complete the home improvements I dream about for the home we currently live in. I would like to see the yard get fenced and a second entrance get dug for the basement and a kitchen completed down there and picket fencing around my side yard. I'd love to see the basement completed to the extent that it could possibly offer a second income? Not sure about that idea, it seems there's no way to arrange it so that you don't have to walk through the main living space and future kitchen to access the laundry room. I would like to add that deck and/or patio and walkway. I'd like to move the garden closer to the water source. I'd like to the turn the entire side yard into a garden, mixing vegetables and flowering plants and making an oasis in my own yard. I would like to add fruit trees. Someday I would like to add a garage.
  • I would like to be a hippie granny. I like to grow my own organic foods, and dye my own home-sewn clothes and live a much healthier life in general. 
In the not as distant someday my dreams look a little smaller: 
  • I want to complete my Master of Education degree, discovering what it is that I really want to pursue in teaching.
  • I want to be able to afford to buy healthier foods (which are more expensive).
  • I want to fix whole foods and not processed foods. 
  • I would like to make a comfortable enough living that I could help my kids as they need help.
What are your dreams and goals? Don't forget, I love comments! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A perfect day?

Share about a perfect day you once had. That is the prompt for today. I am joining BTLBC today.

This day just happened about a month ago. My youngest and I met up with some long-time friends. We had not had a reunion of this kind for over 10 years. I know this because this youngest one of mine wasn't born yet. One family has been missionaries to Africa for much of the time and the other family has moved to Tennessee and back to Kansas several times. It was finally time for my friends to come home to Kansas and say good-bye to Africa. And my other friend is still living in Tennessee but came to Kansas to visit. This was a reunion of the heart and was a perfect day for me. We went to the zoo and it was way too hot.  But we stuck it out, sat in the shade often, reminisced, and had fun. Then we went into town and ate at Carlos O'Kelly's.  Carlos O'Kelly's isn't quite the grand place it once was, but it was full of memories as well. "The girls" sat in the restaurant long after the meal was over and talked about our lives while our children explored the mall with my missionary friend's husband. As we ended this part of a perfect day, some of my plans fell apart. My friend and I were planning to go to The Belleville Highbanks to watch the late models race. Well, some of these friends live near Belleville and they offered to keep the Punkin, so I could still go to the races. My first time to watch races at Belleville.... the track is definitely set up for speed. It satisfied my need for speed if only for a little while. Anyway, it was a real adrenaline rush to watch! Afterward, they had one of the best fireworks displays that I've seen in years! It was long and loud and beautiful. Then we drove out to my friends' house and got my daughter and drove back to my own little town.

This was a long day of fellowship with the kind of friends that leave you feeling better than when the day began. It was perfect.

** It's very difficult for me to find the words of depth to describe my love for my friends and what this reunion did for my soul. But to cap it off with races yet, made more enjoyable because of their generosity and because they focused on my child and made her feel like a part of their family, well, that made it perfect.**

Monday, July 28, 2014

Health and good music

Today's prompt is to blog about health and wellness routines. I read that and thought, "blah....." For the past several years I have developed healthier habits in the summer, with the notable exception being this summer. In summer I can research new and better ways to cook fresh foods and get away from the canned foods and packaged meals. But this summer I was working at the daycare and honestly, it has taken the majority of the summer to get back on track with that and not be exhausted every day. I only have 3 days left at the daycare because my boss gave me today off and Friday I am obligated to be at the school. So now that I am almost finished with my time at the daycare, I am finally acclimated, and could stand to add in some exercise and healthy meals without putting myself over the limit. Usually in summer I garden and add fresh vegetables to our diet as well as developing a routine of getting up and walking in the morning. I have participated in a 5k for a couple years (not this year) that is the first weekend in August and so I start with a mile and gradually increase until I am up to 3 miles. This summer I have done nothing. One day last week I got out and walked. And I was going to do that again today, but I slept too late. I know I feel better when I am more physically fit. I know I feel better when I eat better. Neither of these are convenient for me. Walking is my exercise of choice, I genuinely enjoy it. And I have realized that like running too, but I have to have good shoes for that. I won't even attempt to add that back in until I can buy some better shoes.

I also like yoga and would like to add that into my life a little more. It is not an established routine, I can't say I have ever really committed to it.

I wanted to revisit the music prompt. Saturday's prompt was about the kind of music I listen to. I listen to "classic rock." I hate it that I am old enough that the music I grew up on is "classic" but that's the way it is. I love 80's metal and hard rock. It seems very rebellious and I always think that teachers probably shouldn't like this stuff. My kids know all about Bon Jovi and AC/DC. And the rock station pointed out the other day that Mick Jagger's birthday is the same day as my Punky's. She said who's Mick Jagger? I started singing some Rolling Stones songs and then she had her "aha" moment. I have spent a large portion of my adult life feeling bad about the music I like and I've come to the place that I don't care anymore. For years I thought.... "born again Christians can't like AC/DC...." and now that I am a teacher, I think about how that is a terrible influence on my class. So I try not to let them see me banging my head. But I really am an old school head-banging rocker. And I get a lot done when the music is playing.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What am I most excited about for this year?

First of all, I just want to say, not being able to watch baseball is the most difficult thing about giving up cable TV. I know my KC Royals are doing pretty well this year and I know they play today. I just want to watch.

Today's BTLBC prompt is this: What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?

Seriously, I feel like it is not a fair question. I am most excited about.... EVERYTHING!! I am very excited about the team and the district that I have joined. I have not spent a lot of time with my principal yet, but he's very supportive and personable and I look forward to getting to know him more. I met our superintendent the other night at a town meeting, and he is very supportive of our little school. And I met some of the townspeople last week at the same meeting. They are very serious about the success of our school and very supportive. And I really, genuinely enjoy my teaching partner and I know there is so much I can gain from working with her. But as exciting as all this support is, it is just the tip of the ice berg. I am part of the Mt. Hope PBL Charter school. We are all about project based learning. If you know much about PBL, you know that it is more hands on, it encourages higher-order thinking skills and it prepares students for life in the real world. Because we don't just go to school forever and live in time blocks divided out like the school day. We dig in and process and adjust and re-do and finish and preview and edit and present. That is true to life. If you are a mechanic working on the car and you don't fix the problem, no one says "Wow, A for effort. Next, please." You go back, find out what went wrong so you fix the problem and you keep doing that until the car runs and works like it should. So if your project isn't done or needs fixed, plan on going back and fixing it and working on it until it runs smooth and purrs like kitten.

I am excited to be back in the classroom after being in the reading room last year. I can't wait to teach all subjects and to jump in and do my level best. I see everyone's back to school classroom make-overs and mine won't be themed or super-cool this year. Well, it will be super cool, but not themed. This is my first year in the district, school, and PBL setting. I will know SO MUCH more about how I want my classroom to look like by next fall.

I feel like a toddler, teetering off as I take my first steps. I will gain confidence and agility as I go. And there is not much that I am NOT excited about for this next year.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My little Punky turns 10!

Today is the Punkin's birthday. Ten years ago today I was going through labor and getting ready to welcome a precious little sunshine into my life. She is the baby, the last one, and she is a little on the rotten side. She came and along as a "surprise!" when I least expected it. While I mourned the passing my independence, many, many friends told me about their own surprises and how it changed their lives for the better. But no amount of encouragement and kind words from others could prepare me for the love I have for this girl. I am grateful for her sweetness and her independence and her fire. I am grateful she is not like everyone else. And I love how her existence has improved my life. Some days, when things are not all sunshine and light, I need a reminder of that. Summer can difficult. Cries of "entertain me!" and "I'm bored" and a general lack of motivation. It is hard on the self. I don't just mean the Mom either. It's hard on kids too. I won't have some of her gifts ready this morning when she gets up due to that little glitch where my car wouldn't start last night. So I am running behind on preparedness. But that is okay. I am doing my level best here to practice the go-with-the-flow theory and not get too worried because things don't go according to my plans. I think that birthday kids should get something special for birthday breakfast and open one special gift when they first wake up. That gift is often a birthday outfit or new pj's. I do have a couple of gifts set back that I can give this morning, but it won't be like the ones I usually give first thing in the morning.

Punky's birthday wish was that we could celebrate at the pond. Usually my Dad will refuse a pond visit when it is this hot (although it is only supposed to be in the lower 90's today-- 10 degrees cooler than yesterday), but who could refuse this little girl? Not her grandpa.

I found a few photos on social media. So it only goes back to '08, but here's a few photos of the Punkin.

Christmas time 2008. Four years old

Easter 2009. 4 years old.
Beginning of school. Fall '11. Second grade (and sophomore)
Fall '11. Ready for Halloween

Spring Break '12. Seven years old

Ready to visit a friend for a birthday sleepover. Summer '12
8 years old
Fall '12. My lil Guymon Tiger

End of school year 12-13 school year. 8 years old
9 years old. First choir performance. Fall '13

Leaving on the choir trip, Spring Break '14. It snowed that morning.

Spring '14. age 9.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bragging rights

Today's prompt asks what are my biggest accomplishments, and even says, "go ahead, brag on yourself." Well, okay then! So head over to Big Time Literacy to see what everyone posted.  Today is day 25 of the challenge. I was a little late to the party, but I've been pretty faithful since I started.
Well, I am most proud of earning my teaching degree and becoming a teacher. I have been a Mom and my oldest just turned 30 and she turned out pretty awesome. But I don't really get to claim that, that is on her. I am most invested in being a Mom. And sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't. Which I suppose is the same for teaching. What I notice about being a teacher though is that it is easier to take a step back, ask for a little guidance, and adjust when I need to. Being a Mom, not so much. I tend to whine and cry because things may not be working the way I'd like them to, but I get up and board the same roller coaster again the next day. I mean, I don't make the changes. I am too close to it. And then I am on the same ride and end up in the same place. There is also the little factor of.... children. I have heard that you can be a great parent and have rotten kids. And as I have recently seen.... you can be a lousy, rotten parent, and have a great kid (not my story, someone we know.... great kid). Anyway.... back to my story.

I have worked with children for a lot of years. And this summer, because I had a classified position last year, I am working in a daycare for the summer. But in 2009, I was working in this same daycare. and three or four of my children were leaving for the summer because their Moms were teachers. I had an epiphany. I thought to myself, "If I can work with three years olds all day, and potty train these kids, and nurture them, I can teach....(because I want to be home for summer)." And so I went back to school. The first year, I worked approximately 30 hours a week and maintained a high GPA and raised my girls. The next year, I worked in a school setting and for much of the year I worked for 36-40 hours. But as second semester geared up, I realized I couldn't give as much dedication as I wanted to to both school and work. So I cut back to 25 hours and focused on school. And that last year, we lived on student loans and barely scraped by as I finished my internships and did my student teaching. But my own children survived it, and I graduated with a 3.93 GPA.  I am extremely proud of this. I am just a poor girl from the other side of the tracks and I did it.

Securing a teaching position hasn't proven to be the easy journey that I had hoped for either. That first summer after graduation I took a job waitressing. Teachers don't make a lot of money, but clawing my way through school and fighting for the opportunity to make $30,000+ a year and then making $2.13/hour was humbling to say the least. One day I had an email in my inbox from some principal in the OK panhandle seeking FHSU grads for interviews. So we discussed it and off we went for the interview. It was 116 the day we were there. I am not kidding. It was scorching hot. But we bravely took on that position and left everything we were familiar with for my first year as a teacher and I taught Kindergarten and I am very proud, both of the fact that I worked with great people and learned a lot, but mostly of my Kindergarten students who came through with flying colors and made significant gains and were ready for First grade the following Spring.

I am proud of my hard work as a college student, and I am proud of what it did for me as a person. I know I am a teacher and I the shift in my life is significant.  I am proud, humble and grateful all at the same time. I know teaching is the life for me. I love it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Once again I am joining the Big Time Literacy Blogging Challenge. Today's prompt is: Who were/are your mentors? Who helped you grow as a teacher?

I am fairly new in my journey yet but I have been blessed with a lot of good, helpful people in my teaching career. I was also one of those lucky few who got excellent examples in my college experiences.

An unsung hero in my teaching career would be Kelli, the lead teacher in the room I was in last year. I don't know that she mentored me really. We were each busy preparing for our day and working with students most of the time. But she lead by example, and I just wanted to soak up what she had to give to students. She always had something positive to give.  And if you've been reading my blog, you'll realize that I think this is the key to success. But she also really knows her stuff and she knows how important assessment is to target student needs. She is someone I treasure having the experience of working with. And I know I'll be calling her when I need help with targeting specific reading needs. I feel extremely fortunate to know that she is only a phone call, text message, or facebook message away. She is not a person that *says* they would be happy to help and then is not really there for you.

I have mentioned previously that I have so much gratitude for the extremely high quality teachers who have mentored me, and I say it again. In my Science/Social Studies internship my last year of college (right before student teaching actually), I had the privilege of working with Kim Herron, a sixth grade teacher who makes her students into thinkers. I was in her classroom for over two months before I heard her directly answer a question. Every question is answered with a question, "do you have any resources where you can find the answer?" "What if.... " and so on. She calls herself a possibilitarian and I agree. She made differentiation look easy and she spread love and hope around without advertising it.

I have more examples because I've been so fortunate. But I cannot be late to work today. Blogging is important, but apparently so is paying the bills. I am so excited as I start on this Project-Based Learning (PBL) journey. I simply cannot wait to see what is in store. I already know that my teaching partner is going to be a great addition to the list of mentors who shape my teaching philosophy! I had a supportive partner and principal my first year teaching when I was in the OK panhandle, and I had a super-duper cooperating teacher in student teaching. I learned SO MUCH last year from the Second grade teachers and I am so fortunate to add them to my teaching friends.

Today is a day of gratitude. And I look forward to putting in to practice all I have learned and I know that each of these great ladies are only a phone call away. I am so fortunate!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Favorite Thing About My Career

Today prompt is: What is your favorite thing about your career? I am joining Big Time Literacy's blogging challenge.

I thought this would be easy.  But now I am struggling. Not because I can't find something to love, but because of the depth of how becoming teacher has changed my life, for the better. I think the favorite is that I have the opportunity to influence students lives and I can make learning a rich and rewarding experience. Teaching Kindergarten means teaching students what school will be like for the rest of their journey. Of course, that is not true. But I have always felt like Kindergarten is where you decide if going to school is a good thing or not. So... learning must be fun and I must lead by example! I must! So making sure that students move to the music and laugh and play and dance and experience a sense of community and enjoy success, that is my responsibility. Implementing those things make me feel like a success.  Anytime I feel successful at what I am doing, I feel like I am doing what I was born to do. Somedays are harder than others. That is 100% true. But looking at children and seeing that they are different, happy, well-adjusted makes a difference. And looking at the data and knowing that students made progress and are ready for their next year of school also gives me a feeling of success. 

So what I love most is making a difference in students' lives. But it's not the only thing I love. I love to learn and research and dig in and find out about life through lessons and planning. I love sharing my ideas in this blog. I love working with other teachers and having a community of colleagues that I count as part of my life. I love the smell of newly sharpened pencils in the fall! I love it all. 

Becoming a teacher has changed my life. There is not one, single thing that I don't love. Well, this will be my first year with standardized testing, so I'm sure I'll have some things that I don't love by the end of the year. Meetings. Staff meetings in particular are not my favorite. I usually enjoy PD.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

College Years? Who can remember those?

Today's BTBC prompt is to share a story from my college years. Hmmmm. Which time? lol. I attended college fresh out of high school from 1986-1988. That was long enough ago that I don't have a lot of stories. I got my first bachelor's degree in a degree completion program that I attended once a week from 6-10 p.m. Then I got this crazy idea to become a teacher and I attended college online through Fort Hays State University's online program to earn my teaching degree. My story is that I have never looked back, I have never regretted it or thought it was too hard to work, raise kids and go to school. I have thought that maybe teaching wasn't for me. I have never been happier than once I started putting into practice through college internships (some places call them practicums?) the teaching skills I was learning. Once I started interacting with the students, then I know I had found the career I was meant to do.

I remember this about college (the first time): late night snacks in the dorm with the dorm parent, learning that almost anything is good if you add some cheese, learning that boys are not ALL icky, shooting pool in the boy's dorm, and gaining some independence.

Today I am up to start training my body to get up at a decent hour so we can be on the road to the school when we need to be. If I hurry up I can squeeze in a walk for my health. So I am feeling rushed. Plus, the fact that it was eons ago when I packed up my bags and went off to college. It was SO long ago. Most of the those stories have died and I should just let them. Let's be honest, I am not sure I want to remember what happened in 1986-1988.

So.... as much as I would love to sit and drink another cup of coffee and blog, the great outdoors is calling. And for once, I can hear her. I must answer.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Preferred Reader....

Today's Big Time Blogging prompt asks what kind of reader do I prefer.

I prefer plain old paper books! They represent everything about reading that I love! Sometimes I pretend to smell my books.... because I love them. I only pretend, because books, like cash, stink sometimes. And they've been to some places I just don't actually want to smell. I like to read in the bathtub. I don't take my Kindle in there. When I read books that improve my life (professionally or personally) I like to be able to highlight and take notes in the margins. I finally figured out how to highlight on the Kindle, but let's face it, it's not the same. It can be convenient to use a different kind of reader, but I still love my books.

Speaking of books, I told my daughter I wanted to read because it is relaxing and she said, "No it's not. Reading is complicated." That broke my heart. Reading should be easy and fun (in my opinion). She has become a much stronger reader in the last year or two, but she still struggles with meaning and comprehension. Reading is a chore for her and she works hard at it. I admire her for her perseverance and hard work. That goes for all struggling readers. I have a soft spot for all of them, but I especially admire the ones who don't give up, but keep working and struggling and improving.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Big Time Blogging Challenge: Student Experiences

If money were no object, what experiences would I want my students to have? Wow. What a question. One problem with this scenario is that money is an object and always has been. So I haven't maybe been able to dream as big as I could/should, because I can't imagine it.

Here's an idea I had. Let's involve kids in all things school. I think students should research how to improve school lunches and then do it. From the trip to the grocery store to the preparation to the baking/cooking and serving. I would like to see these lunches be full of whole foods and not processed. I think students should decide what they learn about and research that and figure out the best way to do this. I think students should have (some) say in what time school begins and ends. Because let's face it, teenagers' bodies function on a different clock than ours do. That is a little bitty snippet into what I think. This isn't just an experience, but a concept. And even within this concept, I don't know what experiences particularly I would like my students to experience. I would like my students to know peace and serenity in the classroom and to know that they are the future of our nation. I don't mean I want to occasionally spout rhetoric about how they are the future, I mean I want to teach in a way that plants an understanding in their heart, both of the fact that they are the nation of the future and that they have to power to do whatever they desire. How do I do that and what does that cost? I am not sure. Pray a lot perhaps. Which is something I felt heavy on my heart yesterday, the need to remember the power of prayer. I can't teach my beliefs and I can't bend student's beliefs, but I can cling tightly to mine. And I can remember to pray for my students often. I don't know all their names yet. But I can pray just the same.

I just thought of something that I would like for the students at our school to experience. Public Education at its finest. What I mean by that is~ I would like for them to experience music daily, art more than one time a week-- even daily-- do you know what it does for their minds to access their creativity?! I would like them to experience band and choir and sports. We are a small, dare I say it-- fledgling school-- and one of the concerns I have about bringing my daughter here is that they don't have some of the "extras" that can be real bonding experiences for students. My daughter was involved in a community choir last year, but since she will attending school outside our county, we are no longer eligible to be a part of that. Well, choir was the equivalent of sports for us. She had a group she "fit" with, she learned about commitment and how to work hard even when she didn't feel like it, she learned about fund-raising and facing her personal fears and phobias for the greater good. And then she learned about independence and trust on the trip when she went to Nashville with the choir and sponsors and left her home and family for 7 days for Spring Break last year.

I want this for my child and for our school. Creative expression, sports and the team feeling that provides, and bonding experiences that teach children about commitment and determination.

Whew. I am glad I thought of something. At first I felt like I was cheating on the challenge in this post. But those are the experiences I hope my students can experience. Maybe not all of them this year, but I hope we can fight for this and really expand the vision for our school and soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Favorite holiday with students?

Big Time Blogging Challenge day number 18. I was late to the game, so I have not done all 18 days. Today's prompt is: What holiday do you like to celebrate with your students? I am not sure I have a good answer for that. I almost wanted to skip this one. As I sit here thinking about it, I think that probably the "holiday" I most enjoy celebrating with my class is Veteran's Day. When I was in Oklahoma, I asked my parents to come visit for Veteran's day and Dad, who is a Navy veteran, came to our class and visited. Our Third and Fourth Grade students put on heart-wrenching performance in the gym and we talked about the sacrifices our military make. My students made cards for "Mr. Suderman" and gave them to him. I think that there will be so much more we can do this year, with a project based learning focus, than I did then. I also think Christmas may be a grand adventure this year. I loved it my first year of teaching because I got the students books for Christmas when Scholastic was having one of their sales, and I loved seeing them realize that they got to take the book home. One thing my partner (in crime... heh heh) and I have been talking about is that we don't do "traditional" Christmas program of sing a song and be done. Last year the older students researched Christmas past in America and dressed the part and I am not sure what all else. I will be excited to see how we meet our Social Studies standards in regard to Christmas this year! The world is our for the taking! So look out!

Now, if you have asked what holiday I enjoy most with my colleagues, it is definitely Christmas and it is definitely about the food. So much good food seems to show up around Christmas time! And I love finding a little trinket that is appropriate and fitting for my peers. But mostly, it is the food. In case you are wondering, it is the making of stuff that intrigues me most about Christmas and I love doing that with my children as well. My favorite Christmas with my own kids was the one where we made tons of goodies and make our gifts and stamped our own wrapping paper.  Super fun. We hope to start some new traditions this year, like going to church on Christmas Eve and serving in a soup kitchen or some other kitchen for the homeless or down-trodden.

Today we are headed to the school to start making my room "my room." I am excited, but not nearly as excited as the Punkin. She sketched out where everything is supposed to go! Wheee! I am pretty pumped too. I know my brain will "make it mine" on so many levels when I get to take actual control and move furniture and whatnot.

I guess I better get moving. This morning will disappear quickly and I have plans with "the fam" tonight! And plans to mow and do stuff here tomorrow.

Happy weekend everyone. I know some of you don't distinguish the days so much anymore, but since I am a working girl this summer, I cherish the weekend! Two more weeks of "work" (and it's in parenthesis because after work, then I work on school stuff and in my "spare" time I plan and go to the school) and one more after that until school starts.

Don't forget to head over and read everyone's post at Big Time Literacy's blogging challenge.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five for Friday, July 18

Positively my favorite linky on my favorite day of the week.... Five for Friday. I just realized I took very few pictures this week. The photos might be sparse.

1. New glasses. I haven't been to the eye doctor in five or six years. I don't know why. But my old frames slide off the end of the my nose all the time. And the Doc mentioned that my prescription changed quite a bit for the distance part of my lenses. But now I have hip new frames that will stay on my face.... yay!

2. This is my sis and I at my folks' anniversary celebration. Think I got any pictures of the guests of honor? It is a big year for them (50) and there is another celebration tonight. Maybe I'll be a picture tonight.

3.  My kidneys have been slightly swollen and tender. No sharp, shooting pain that I am told go with stones, so that is good, right? I do have an appointment, but it's crazy-busy at work, so it isn't until next week. I am flushing them with a lot of water, but I was naughty and had a coffee drink yesterday.

4. Two things about this photo.... we got a couple of "new to us" items for housekeeping center, a mop and a vacuum. The kids were busy cleaning all afternoon! The other thing I wanted to mention is that we are working on learning to group up and play in center groups. I group the kids and tell them which center they are in, then we switch after about 15 minutes. This helps them learn to make new friends and play with all their peers, as well as contains the noise level.

5. Our story this week was The Little Red Hen (makes a pizza). This is a matching exercise where the students matched the picture to the words of the character. So of course they needed help reading the words, but they got the cutting practice, which is probably what I was most excited about.  I think that learning to color is a bit of a big deal too.... fine motor, fine motor, fine motor.....

Happy Friday everyone. It's been a busy week and I am really pumped about school. I can't wait to get started! This weekend we are going to tackle room organization. (If my back/kidneys will let me).

I am posting my Five in the Big Time Blogging Challenge. Today's prompt is a Teacher Must Haves list. I can't wait to read everyone's! But I don't really know what I need or "must have." Probably reinforcement for the concepts I wrote about yesterday because classroom management is so key to a productive year. Must haves for me are: reward coupons, reward ideas, a positive attitude and lots of love. There are other things I want/need like: word walls, sentence strips, etc. But one of the biggest things that I am aware of is that I don't really know what this year will bring and there will more "go with the flow" days that not. Read more about "must haves" at Big Time Literacy

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Classroom Management

A great classroom management strategy? Hmmmm.....

I have strong classroom management. But it's hard for me to pinpoint one single reason why. I think it is a lot of little reasons. I think clear management comes from consistency, clear expectations, focusing on the positive and loving your students. Relationship is still a big part of classroom management. I think students respond to that and respect your rules out of a desire to please. Which is a desire we all possess, but if students don't enjoy your class or feel like you don't care about their needs, they will have a harder time following your rules.

It's important to promote your class as a class/school family and to help students realize that their actions affect the whole class. That is sort of an ongoing theme for me. Last year I did something called Check In/Check Out with a Kindergarten boy. And every morning when I came to the classroom to check in, one of the songs that played during morning work was "We Are Family." I loved that. I almost always left Ms. Regier's room with a smile on my face, the music made me want to dance.... and I wanted to have a good day just hearing it. But honestly, I don't think you have to have music to start your day. I think that promoting the idea that while your family at home is MOST important, your peers at school are your school family and should be treated as such, is a valuable and powerful process.

I think the most powerful thing I have ever seen/done is "catching" students in the behaviors I desire. And then announcing loudly, "I love how *Susie* went to her seat and followed directions quickly!" I had a super-fabulous model of this when I was student teaching. When I grow up, I want to be a student-whisperer like Mrs. Hamilton!!

I think that giving students ownership of the rules plays a part too. My first year of teaching, students did not play a part in developing our 5 Classroom Rules. They did help me define them. This year, I am not sure how much it will be up to the students. We are going to develop School Rules as a whole school, it is one of our first projects. We know what we want our rules to be, so we'll guide the students to get there. But realizing that each student has a part in defining what it means to "respect others" is important.  Talking about it, listing examples, and using role play are powerful ways to get there. If a student believes it is up to them to show the world our expectations, they step up and do their level best to be a good role model. I think the modeling and role playing are important too because some students' level best is not as developed as others. Maybe the student doesn't know how to respect others. Maybe at home when he/she is told to keep their hands to themselves, the boundary is not a two-way boundary and they are confused by it. I don't know what happens outside of school, so it is important to build that bridge and show them what the expectation is.

I don't ever want to be the teacher that expresses rules like this: "The next person I catch throwing a snowball will sit in the office during recess." This was actually spoken over morning announcements at a school I was in once. It was expressed by the principal to the entire school. I know that we all have days, and goodness knows I have had a few days in my life! But I don't think that going negative like that and expressing negativity school-wide is ever the way to succeed.

I got off track. The truth is, I think a lot of management strategies work, but praise works best. I like it in conjunction with some other form of positive reinforcement. We had sticker charts on desks. And then I could easily say.... "Wow! I love the way Susie is keeping her hands to herself and respecting others! Susie, you may put a sticker on your chart!" I also think Dr. Phil was right when he said, "What is their pay off? Find their pay off.... " and I think he was talking about potty training.  It's not bribery if it works folks. That one student who is not motivated by the things that others are motivated by, find whatever it is that they are motivated by. Maybe they are not motivated by anything you offer at school but they are motivated by interaction with their parents. Quick! Catch them doing something praiseworthy (in some cases, you have to be VERY quick to catch a good thing, or just a thing that isn't a bad thing....), and send a note, email or text to Mom or Dad. Because there may a time in the near future when you need to talk to Mom or Dad and it's not so positive, and that might be the key, so pump up the positive if/when you get the chance. Or if they are motivated by extra recess or a chance to show off to friends, whatever it is, find THAT payoff and then promote that to them. And I know I say it a lot.... build relationships! You can't convince a student to respect you if you don't show them respect and kindness!

Don't forget to hop over to Big Time Literacy and read other great classroom management ideas/strategies that work! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Favorite TV Shows

Today's prompt is to write about a television show we watch/like/love.
I have to admit.... I love television. It's one of my favorite things. However, we gave up our cable, we couldn't afford it. And it was hard.  But we are now satisfied with Netflix and Hulu+.  Someday I hope to get an antenna and a TiVo. Then I will be able to indulge in baseball again. :) In fact, let's take a moment of silence to grieve the fact that I missed the ASG (All Star Game). :(

I am hooked on Parenthood. I am immersed in the lives of the characters and I love them and think that they are really part of my family. My Redhead and I discuss and talk about the characters as if they are a tangible part of our life. *sigh* And it seems there are important life lessons buried in that show. This last season I was touched by Zeke and how he realized how much he loves Camille.  That is a true to life fairy tale right there.

And I watched all of Breaking Bad~ twice. I loved Jesse. I almost couldn't watch the last 6 or 7 episodes the second time through. I grew to hate Walt and wished for his demise many times before the end of the show. I am not sure why I liked this one so much. Parenthood leaves me facing dilemmas that could actually happen in life and celebrating triumphs that are just as possible. Breaking Bad is full of impossible scenarios with grandiose schemes. I think that in the world of addiction though, the grandiose schemes may have reality to them. And I am grateful my life is simpler than that.

We like to watch Psych and My Name is Earl. And unfortunately it's true.... "we" like them. Psych is pretty harmless. My Name is Earl is inappropriate. Most of the time.

I am still hooked on Grey's Anatomy, though I think this last season may have been my last season to watch it. It just isn't very intriguing anymore. And the love story between Derek and Meredith has grown too mundane. It hooked me in because I could relate with dark and twisty Meredith. I know we all have to grow up, but this grown up person who deals with life.... well, it's too much like life. And I don't know what the difference is between this and Parenthood, because I love Parenthood because it IS like life.

My most recent show is Nashville and there were only one or two seasons on Netflix and Hulu and now I am waiting impatiently for the new season to start. I binge-watched that one. Watched most of it in one weekend. That is the downside to netflix.

I also love Dallas. I am waiting impatiently for the new season to hit Netflix. I love Dallas because it is just as devious and twisted as it was when I was a kid and would beg my Mom to let me stay up and watch it with her.

Those are "my shows." Nothing deep or spiritual hidden there! What I watch changes when we don't have cable. When we had cable I watched a LOT of HGTV and Food Network (I love Guy Fieri). What are your favorite shows and why do you like them?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I hear voices

I make a lot of mistakes. And I am pretty hard on myself about them. I feel a lot of responsibility in being a parent. And I don't cut myself slack, forgive mistakes or give myself grace the way that I think I probably should. For one thing, being hard on myself makes it harder to improve, not easier. So when I read Michelle's words this morning for the blogging challenge I thought she was talking to me, and I am a long way from being a student in middle school!

What kinds of things do you tell yourself inside your head? I always tell my girls to tell themselves good things, but I don't do that. I tell myself things like, "you're fat," "you always get it wrong" "you are not like other people" and things much worse. The "you are not like other people" is confusing sometimes because no one is like other people, we are all like ourselves. And I tell this to my girls as a good thing, a comfort and sometimes simply as a statement of fact. Maybe the reason that you stand apart is because you are not like your peers. That is what I tell my Punky and the Redhead. I know that affirmations work. I know that if I practice diligently, I can change the negative self-talk. I am going to need that. I am going to need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can do this big transitional teaching year. And part of me is excited beyond words and part of me is equally as panicked and the feeling of inadequacy is welling up inside. But the truth is, I am not inadequate, I am inexperienced. There's a difference. My goal is to catch the negative self-talk and replace it with positive truths.

Last night I had a very grown up talk with my almost ten year old.  Somehow we got on the subject of judgment and homosexuality. Wow. And she was very, very grown up about it. It was interesting to see the world through her eyes a little bit and get a chance to put my two cents worth in before she is so grown that my influence doesn't matter anymore. And I am not going to stir up a moral discussion here or any other discussion about orientation.  I did want to say that I am impressed with what a deep thinker my daughter is. And it fits with the rest of my post because she told me "Mom, I am that kid that is sitting in the corner all alone." Aw..... ouch. As a Mom, I kind of want to fix it. I tried to get her to think about ways she can curb some of her behaviors, because some of them do not attract people to her.  I don't think it is necessary to change her thoughts so much, but she doesn't always have to have things her way.  And she doesn't have to express every differing view that she has. I was telling someone yesterday about this snippet of a conversation we recently had, "Punky, you are very argumentative right now." "What does that mean?" "That you argue with me, no matter what I say." "No I don't."

She is going to a new school this year, and there probably ARE some things she can do to fit in better. I really want her to find a niche and fit in. I DON'T want her to squash who she is to be who someone thinks she should be. It's hard to be the guiding force and not give a message of "you're not good enough" or "you should be different." I tried really hard not to give those messages to the Redhead, but I know that she "heard" that somehow anyways. But perhaps all the responsibility does not lie with me. Perhaps some of it lies with fact that she listens to her inner voices too, and she may not tell herself good words, words that lend themselves to success and acceptance.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My teams...

My quirky aunt posts the "holidays" on her facebook page every day. Today is National Beans and Franks day and National French Fry day. Sounds good to me.... beanie-wienies and fries. Yum.

Today for the Big Time Literacy link up I am talking about my favorite teams.

I missed out on the day that we talked about our favorite teams. I am not an athlete. But I was raised in Kansas. We have a strange alliance with KU at our house. Why strange? Well, there is no REASON for it. In fact, much of our family attended K-State, I have been to K-State for business, but I've never been to KU. And that list goes on. And we have a similar unfounded loyalty to OU. We lived in the OK panhandle for a year and had to pick a team and went with OU. That is it. But we now make fun of Cow Pokes and cheer for OU. This is also strange as my cousin's son is following in Dad's footsteps and going to OSU this fall. But the truth is, I don't really watch football. I go to a superbowl party year for the food and friendship (and maybe the commercials).

But I LOVE baseball. I guess because I actually understand how the game works. And my Dad took us to a Royals game when we were kids. I am from Kansas and our Royals are doing pretty well this year, with the exception of the other night when I actually had a television in front of me and the Indians were beating them 15-2 when I started watching. I think it was 15-4 when I quit watching. I don't have television like the average person has television, so I don't get to watch very often this year. I knew when I got rid of my cable that baseball would be the hardest thing to do without. Obviously there are no live games on Netflix or Hulu.

So when the Royals played the Yankees (ooo....Derek Jeter) at Kauffman stadium this summer, I was more than a little bit jealous of my friends who posted pictures of the game. Royals were number one in their division last time I checked and I am hoping we go all the way to the World Series this year. But it won't matter, I can't watch the game anyway, because I don't have an antenna or cable.

But really, my "team" is team Horn. Sometimes I lose track of that because I am busy teaching kids to read, pursuing a job, trying to become a better teacher, or whatever else might come up! But my team is team Horn household and helping the people who live here succeed. Go team!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Travel past.... Travel Future....

Today's **Big Time** prompt is to write about travels past and/or travels future.

One of the best experiences we ever had was going out to Washington DC to visit my cousin and his children. We visited the DC sights.... some of the National Museums that are there, rode the metro, ate at one of their favorite places (Johnny Rocket's), visited the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam and Korean Memorials. It was breath-taking and educational and a whole lot of fun! It was Punky's first time flying. We went to the beach and were beach bums. It was wonderful, dreamy, very vacation-ish. Not the stress of "real life." My girls have not gotten a lot of vacations and this was a good one and I am very happy we had the chance to do it.
Picture of Red at the beach. She looks so thrilled. She was turning 13 that summer.

Punky and her cousin. :)

Punky got fashion glasses

Everybody knows this guy, right?

Yes, that is really a cockroach. Notice the look of skepticism on my daughter's face.

My cousin took the picture, but the rest of us are in this photo.
Vacations Future.... I really don't know. I want to go to the west coast because I never have. I loved every visit I have made to Flagstaff, I think it would be a nice city to live in. Realistically speaking.... vacations to visit family are the way to go. For so many reasons. One reason is the economics of it. Another reason is the joy of getting to know family better. I see a visit to St. Louis in our future. My Uncle and Aunt live there and they moved into a new house about ten years ago and we've never seen it! I also know there is so much to do in St. Louis! And lots of free attractions!
Did you know that the Budweiser Clydesdales live in St. Louis?
Six Flags over St. Louis

Entrance to the zoo is free.... some exhibits cost money
This sounds like a wonderful adventure to me. I love visiting and doing and I would love to spend my time with my family. My aunt was a school librarian for many, many years and recently retired to enjoy her grandchildren more.

Dream places to visit?

I would love to go to the Caribbean. I found this picture online.
Gorgeous. Right?

I would like to take my kids on a cruise sometime. I know I'll never get rich teaching, but I have high hopes that I'll one day have the money to take them on a memorable family vacation.

Then there is this dream, another someday dream: to teach in a tropical location, like Puerto Rico or Hawaii. Just to pack up and leave everything behind and go to some place far, far away and encounter a different lifestyle.

What is your dream vacation? or just a dream? Leave a comment.