Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Currently

March - what?!?  How did that happen?

March is an exciting month at our house!  Here is what is happening...



It seems like every month when I finally have time to sit down to work on my currently post someone is snoring by my side.  This time it is Kalli, my youngest goldendoodle.  She is 4 years old and sleeps on my feet every single night.

March is birthday month at our house and it is full of family fun!  Within the next two weeks, we will celebrate my son's birthday, my daughter's birthday and my husband's birthday (and his twin's birthday). His twin does not live with us (anymore). Ha!

In January, my husband and I did Whole30.  At first, Whole30 was something that I figured I might as well try because nothing else seemed to work.  Now, I am a firm believer in the benefits.  It really worked and we are still eating about 90% clean as a result.

Between my new job, lost of presentations, grad school, baseball, soccer, dance and a few big projects that I'm working on...I'm looking forward to crossing a few things off my list this month.

It's been extremely cold in Michigan.  I actually like winter, but I am looking forward to the days when I can take a nice long run with sunshine and warmer temps.

We're staying local this spring break for the most part.  I am planning a visit to the Vera Bradley outlet sale with my mom and my daughter.  Other than that, we're staying here to take care of something top secret.  I'm one of those people who thinks it is a bad idea to announce big things...just in case something doesn't work out in the end.  I am hoping to be able to share more in April.

Now, I really need to go to bed.  Looking forward to reading through the Currently posts as always.

Head over to Farley's blog to check out the party!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Finding the Good in Assessment

With the temperature at -26 degrees (and a windchill even lower) my district had "cold" weather days for the past two days.  Our instructional support team (which I am now part of as an instructional coach) braved the cold to attend the annual Michigan Assessment Conference.  The conference covered the changing face of state assessments, common assessments, formative assessments and growth models.

A new teacher in one of the sessions I attended told me that she was shocked to learn that assessment can be useful to teachers.  I was shocked by that statement, at first.  Then came the realization that in general the majority of our new teachers are coming out of teacher prep programs with a negative feeling about assessment.

Since I doubt our state governments or the federal government are going to ease up on testing anytime soon, I choose to accept whatever useful information the results give me to improve instruction and ignore the negativity.

It would be sad to me if the negative press around testing prevented our teachers from opening their minds to using formative assessments in their classrooms.  The information we gather about student learning from formative assessments can and should be used to guide our instruction.  As teachers we need to do everything we can to work smarter. Working smarter maximizes student progress and that progress is faster when we've developed clear learning targets based on assessment.

 As a teacher, I often thought about why the nuns always gave me a pre-test and a post-test in elementary school.  Turns out that even "back in the day" they were working toward specific learning targets.   I sure wish they would have told me what the learning targets were...but that is another post.

By comparing formative assessment results and summative assessment results, we can identify student learning trends and adjust our instruction in ways that address the real student learning problems.

There are two purposes of assessment: enhancing student learning (ex. formative assessments) and verifying achievement (summative assessments).  In my mind, this kind of eases some of the negativity.  The tests that are being required by so many states are simply a snapshot in time that help us identify student learning trends.  Based on those trends, we can do additional assessments to help us identify the student learning problems and adjust our instruction accordingly.

from Improve Assessment Literacy Outside of Schools Too  by Rick Stiggins



If you look hard enough, you can find the good in anything.  Assessment can be powerful and so can the way we use it to improve our instruction and student learning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why Do You Love Teaching?

Our state department of education is encouraging teachers to share what we love about teaching this week.  Please consider sharing what you love about teaching too!  If you have a blog you can post about it there, share it on Instagram, tweet it or post about it on Facebook.


The number one reason I love teaching is simple...kids!
When your day is filled with this kind of enthusiasm, it is hard not to love your job.
It is easy to feel lucky.
It is easy to feel loved.
It is easy to feel like you have a chance to make a difference.


Education is a gift.
We give and receive the gift of learning each day as teachers.

Since I started a new job as an instructional coach this year, 
I am able to collaborate with  teachers about instruction and student learning every single day.

working together = more brain power = increased learning for adults and kids


Not gonna lie. I also love organizing things, which is a constant process for this teacher.


As a teacher, my world is full of words.  Some people love numbers. I love words.


As a teacher, I can share my love of schedules with students (and now teachers).


 "Is that lady reading a book in her kayak in the middle of the lake?"
It's easy for my family to explain - "She's a teacher. She has a book with her everywhere she goes."


Another reason to love being a teacher...
you get to purchase a back to school outfit and an open house outfit.
(My personal stylist from Stitch Fix chose these for me.)



When you are a teacher, your days and your life (and your goal spreadsheet) are filled with...


This year, I am part of the Instructional Support Team in my Dexter.  
I love my new team!
I am learning so much from each of the talented members of our team.  
One is a data expert, one is a technology expert and one is the dynamic leader of our team.
I love teaching because now I have this opportunity to learn from my team.
Together we are excited, challenged in a positive way
 and on a mission to be as supportive as possible.

There is so much for teachers to celebrate at the end of each year!


And...still we feel like this when someone says that summer is almost over.


Then...the backpacks fill up. 
Buses arrive.
The bell rings.
We welcome back the little ones 
who count on us to LOVE teaching 
and LOVE each of them 
as we learn together.


#loveteaching




















Sunday, February 8, 2015

March is Reading Month Themes

February is the time to do 2 important things.

Eat chocolate and prepare for March is Reading Month, right?

Two of my favorite themes to do with my students for March is Reading month were the Information Highway, which my whole school did last year. I made this Information Highway unit to guide my students through a month of focusing on informational text.

Here are a few pictures from our month long journey on the Information Highway.






My all time favorite March is reading month theme is Camp Read a Lot!
It was a student (and parent) favorite as well.  I liked it so much that last year I did the Information Highway theme for the whole month and we still visited Camp Read a Lot for a week.  Over the last couple years, many teachers have sent me pictures of my Camp Read a Lot unit being used as an end of the year unit as well.





Back to the grad school assignment that I've been avoiding while I watch Downton Abbey.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Currently February

Linking up with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade again this month for her monthly Currently party.



I love snow, so I'm not worried about the forecast of 10 - 14 inches today.  But...I like to stay home when it snows that much.  So, I'm not excited about driving to campus for my graduate class this afternoon.

I'm about to finish up a round of Whole 30, so I will not eat a whole tube of chocolate chip cookie dough...but it sure sounds yummy.  You can read about my Whole30 experience here.

As for my pageant title, I'm not really a pageant kind of girl (heels = disaster and grumpy girl).  But, if they had a pageant for progress I would be the queen, the princess and the biggest promoter.  I like to set goals and make progress.  I like to aim for progress and share it.  I like to measure progress and encourage everyone around to make their own. 
Progress = change = move forward = happy girl

Please stop by to visit Farley to read the other posts this month.
Thank you, Farley, for hosting and keeping us laughing each month!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seriously, folks...I don't even like vegetables!

Last year, my students did a research project about eating healthy foods.  
Here are a few pictures of the writing,
 which we published on the back of grocery bags.




And...here is the truth.
I hate vegetables and leftovers.

So, why would I person who hates veggies and leftovers do the Whole30?

Because, sometimes we have to do things that we don't like.  
And...it turns out that it helps you button your pants!



When my co-workers see my lunch, they ask me what kind of diet I am on.
I tell them the same thing every single day.
The Whole30 is not a diet, it is a healthy lifestyle change.

There are tons of rules that go with the Whole30.
Basically it means for 30 days, you eat only meat, veggies and little bit of fruit.
No preservatives.
No sugar.
No Dt. Dew. (I'm still trying to get over that reality.)
You're also not allowed to weigh yourself during the 30 days.
I don't believe in that...so I weigh myself once a week.
It's working.

I am currently on day 23 of the Whole30.

I joined a support group of teacher bloggers 
and we are all doing Whole30 together this month.
The teacher support group has been super helpful!
Even more helpful is the fact that my husband (who is our resident chef) 
agreed to do the Whole30 with me.

Most people who do the Whole30 say they have a burst of energy a few days in.
Some folks claim they slay the "sugar dragon" within these 30 days.
Most people who do the Whole30 say they are inspired to learn to cook new things.
Most people who do the Whole30 say they have the best workouts ever.
People even claim to get "tiger blood" during the Whole30.

My reality is a little different.
I did not have a burst of energy.
But, do mom's who work full time, take grad classes, have a history of sleep issues,
 have kids in travel soccer, travel baseball and dance 
with a husband who is currently coaching basketball 
really have bursts of energy outside the month of July?

I like to bake.  I make great chocolate chip cookies, cakes and desserts. 
I still hate to cook - especially veggies.
And I feel like I might be the only one in the world who hates leftovers.

I also have not worked out once during my Whole30, 
unless you count my dog walks several times a week.
I have a gym membership, 
but I refuse to feel guilty about not using it this month because if
I have to choose between sleeping or waking up at 4:00 a.m. to fit it in...I choose sleep.
I don't know what tiger blood is...so I'm sure I don't have whatever that is. Ha!
I'll get back into my running routine when life settles down, 
but guess what?

The Whole30 is still working.
I sleep better.
I no longer have acid reflux.
My frequent headaches are gone.
I feel like I am in control...instead of chocolate controlling me.
And my favorite pants button!

I WILL NOT DRINK DIET DEW WHEN THIS IS OVER.
I wish I could.  But, I won't.

Being healthy makes me happy.
After the Whole30, I hope to continue my healthy eating adventure
with not so many rules and a whole lot more self control than I had before.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

January Currently 2015!!

It's currently January!
It's currently 2015!
Both seem unbelievable to me...

It's also time to link up with Farley from Oh Boy 4th Grade for her monthly Currently linky party!


It's a quick post since I'm writing at 3:00 a.m. while the whole house sleeps.

Yes - grad school again. I'm starting classes to add another certification.
Maybe - I'll survive the Whole30 in January.  I think I can. I think I can.
I wish - I could shop at Farley's store if/when she opens it!  :)

You can visit the link up at Farley's blog, Oh Boy 4th Grade!



Happy New Year!