Sunday, February 26, 2012

De-Stressing Linky Party

Brenda from Primary Inspired is hosting a de-stressing linky party!

In a few days, my family will move for the 2nd time in 60 days. Both of my kids have birthdays the week that we move. Within the same four days, it will be the end of my husband's basketball coaching season and the beginning of my lacrosse coaching season. Less than a week after we move in, we will host a slumber party for seven 9 year old girls and a birthday party with 15 six year olds for my son. Oh...and it's my husbands birthday that weekend too. Don't get me wrong...we are very lucky and count our blessings daily. But, all of this happening in the middle of March is Reading Month is causing an overload of stress.

It's causing so much stress that my left eye has been twitching since December. I used to call it the conference twitch (because it only happened during parent teacher conference week) but this time it is sticking around. I looked up the causes of eye twitching online.

1. stress (check)
2. lack of sleep (check)
3. caffeine (check)
4. alcohol (umm... yep - check)
5. allergies (check)
6. eye strain (oops - all this bloggin probably isn't helping - check)
7. nutritional imbalances (darn those girl scout cookies - check)

Guess this eye twitching problem won't be going away anytime soon. So, while I'm trying to have faith that life will settle down and that I'll be able to stop winking at strangers is what I do to try to manage my stress.

1. blog/search pinterest
2. snuggle my kids
3. knit (I've been working on the same lap blanket for a year. Ha!)
4. read low stress books (I've read the Little House on the Prairie chapter books hundreds of times. I do read more sophisticated things, but not with this kind of stress lurking.)
5.throw things away
6. make lists of things I already did and cross some of them off to make myself feel better! :)
7.walk my dogs
8. make jewelry
9. watch the hoarder show - that makes me feel way better
10.go shopping!

What do you do to de-stress? Link up with Brenda or at least head over to visit to read about all the de-stressing going on with our bloggy friends.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Virtual Teaching Expo Question and Answer

Welcome! If you're visiting because you attended the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo, I hope you enjoyed the presentations. If you didn't get a chance to register early for the expo, you can still register and view the presentations (even after the launch date).

The topic of my presentation was helping struggling readers. If you watched my presentation, you may have noticed that I was lookin' a bit like Mr. Ed (he's a talking horse in case you are too young to know him). Ha! I'm normally not so serious, but helping struggling readers is a serious passion of mine. I could talk about it for hours with whoever will listen discuss it with me. A big theme in my presentation (and in my classroom) is repetition. I believe that many of our struggling kids would not be "struggling" for nearly as long if our instruction provided more repetition.

I'll admit that I'm guilty of thinking, "well, we have to move on" or feeling like I might poke my eyeballs out if I have to cover short /a/ word families with a certain child for one more week. Although we all feel pressured by standards, teacher evaluations and things that seem developmentally inappropriate for some of our young learners, the bottom line is that our instruction has to meet each learner where they are in order for them to be successful. That is not an easy task. A friend who teaches foreign language once told me that she has tremendous respect for elementary teachers "because all of the students in her French 3 class are at that level and she never has to figure out how to provide instruction for a French 1 level student in her French 3 class". Finally, someone outside of my world of leveled books, recess boots and matching bins understands a little of what we face each day in the classroom.

For many of our struggling students to have a chance to be successful, the answer is simple (in my opinion)...repetition, repetition and a little more repetition. I think we (including me) often give up something and try something different before we know if the student really just needs more repetition in order to succeed. There are obviously some students who need different instruction or additional services/support, but without trying additional repetition first I think it's hard to know if they really need something different or just more of the same than their peers.

Last summer, I did a couple posts about helping struggling readers. You can read those posts here
and here.  I also hosted a linky party about helping struggling readers this past summer.  You can view the submissions to that linky party here.

Let's get this discussion started...

1. How do you use repetition to support your struggling readers?

2. Do you use volunteers to help you provide repetition for struggling students?

I can't wait to hear about how you use repetition to support your struggling readers!  I'd be happy to answer questions and would be thrilled to have feedback from you. Thanks for visiting today!

Customer Appreciation Sale

I'm grateful for all the followers who have left me such nice comments and sent such nice emails lately.  To show my appreciation and celebrate the launch of the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo, I'm having a sale!  You can visit either of my shops by clicking on the links in my sidebar.

Tomorrow is a big day!  It's the launch of the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo.  I'm a featured presenter for this expo.  They even made little old me an official looking logo thingy with my picture on it.  Imagine -ha! Here it is...

It's not too late to purchase a ticket (for only $14.95).  You can watch the presentations at your convenience on your own computer and you'll get a goodie bag full of free digital downloads for registering. 

Join me here tomorrow for a discussion related to my presentation topic - supporting struggling readers!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo

It's not too late to register for the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo!  It's a conference that you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to attend and you don't even have to travel to enjoy it.  It's the perfect professional development opportunity if you ask me. The expo launches this  Saturday (2/25) and you can view the presentations at your convenience. 

Just can click on the image below to register.

After the expo, you can join me here if you have questions or would like to discuss anything from my presentation.  Hope you'll join us!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Most Successful Writing Activity All Year

A change of plans for my writing lesson on Friday resulted in the most successful writing activity my students have done all year! All week, I had been reading Ready, Freddy - The One Hundredth Day of School to my class. My students LOVE the Ready Freddy books!

At the very end of this book, the students in the class share their collections of 100 things for the hundredth day of school.  A little girl in the class brings 100 worry dolls.  She explains what a worry doll is and where she got hers.  My students were very interested in the worry dolls and the fact that I had worry dolls when I was little.  Even after the "super-sized" clean out I did in my room last summer...I  just happen to have a bag full of worry dolls in my cabinet that parent gave me a few years ago.  Last summer, I kept lookin' at them wondering what I was going to do with them.  When my students expressed so much interest in worry dolls, I knew I had to change my writing plan for the day (right after I scanned the hallway for the ipad patrol).

*The ipad patrol is really my principal (who is not scary, thank goodness) with his ipad that he just started carrying around to do our spontaneous observations (scary - but I'm trying to have faith that his fancy ipad evaluation program will catch me doing something worthy of being highly effective).  I'm actually pretty sure my principal would have loved my writing lesson (even with the change of plans), but without the time to change my "detailed lesson plan" checking the hallway like a secret agent seemed like the best solution.

The coast was clear, so...
1.  I gave each student a worry doll to take to their desk.
2.  They named the dolls and brainstormed ideas.  I gave them some suggestions of things to include on their brainstorming sheet (which is just a web).  I wanted them to include the name of their doll, a few details about what a worry doll is where they might keep it if they had one.  I also asked them to write down one worry that they might want to share with a worry doll.
3.  Before I gave each student their writing paper, I walked around to have a quick conference with each student about their brainstorming.  I almost always do that during writing time, so they don't start writing without developing a solid plan.

The enthusiasm was building as the students began to write.   As I walked around to conference with each student, some of them whispered their worry to me.  Others were only comfortable handing their paper to me to read.  I was shocked about some of their worries and the fact that I was able to solve some of them by simply taking the time to listen to each child individually.  Isn't it sad that we don't have time to really talk/listen to kids sometimes about something unrelated to the standards? 

Here are a few of their worries...
One little girl was worried about a boy (who she is assigned to sit with on the bus) being mean to her.  I offered to write a note to her bus driver.  Her mom emailed me yesterday to say thank you - her daughter now has a new seat.

One little boy was worried that foxes would eat him in the middle of the night.  I told him that I used to worry about coyotes when I was little.  He responded, "I thought I was the only one!" He also gave me a big hug.

One little girl was worried that she might never find her special bracelet.  She had already checked the lost and found last week.  She never mentioned to me that she lost it at school before. When she shared her worried with me, I convinced her to go to the office to check because we keep lost jewelry in the office (not in the lost and found).  She came back with the bracelet and a huge smile.

I'm still working on solving a few more worries that I think I might be able to "fix" and I'm praying about a few others that were kind of sad.  It was an eye opening experience for me.

Their writing was AMAZING!  I was so impressed by their work and was extremely tempted to force them to leave their writing with me (so I could at least make copies).  But... I didn't.  When I told them that they could keep their worry doll forever they jumped up and down and cheered.  They were so excited to take their worry dolls and their writing home.  A spontaneous change of plans = motivated writers who produced the best writing they have done all year.  Score!

I'm definitely buying more worry dolls for next year.  I found this set on Amazon, in case anyone else is interested.

I'm signing off with a quote that one of my friends sent me last week...

"Faith is taking the next step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Faith is my olw.  Thanks, Jenny...for being such a great friend and reminding me to have faith.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shari and the Survivor

Who is Shari? I'll get to that in a minute... I am the survivor. I'm all for spreadin' Valentine's Day cheer and giving flowers and chocolate, but it should be illegal to celebrate Valentine's Day and the 100th day of school ON THE SAME DAY, right?

Oh my goodness...we exchanged cards, I announced my favorite thing about why each child is special to me, we ate pink sherbet (I don't even know if we are allowed to do that anymore - but we did and it was yummy), we opened our Valentines and then we spent the rest of the day doing 100 tons of 100th day fun (at least that's what it seemed like to me). And what does Wilma the Worrier do while kids are enjoying a day of FUN? I walked around feeling a little freaked out that I was missing my reading groups, writer's workshops and math time. Not because I don't want to kids to have fun...but because the ipad patrol will be making rounds soon and there I was dishing out sherbet and wearing Shari on my shoulder. Here's the "who is Shari?" part...Shari was a gift I received first thing this morning from a former student.

Here she is...

She is a "shoulder buddy" that I was instructed to stick on my shoulder with a magnet.  I LOVE the little girl who gave her to me (so I put it her on right away) and the fact that she must not have thought that my big nose was going to hit Shari's mohawk each time I turned to the left makes me love her (the student) even more.  I don't know if Shari is a chicken or a troll, but now that she spent the day listening to everything I mumbled under my breath... I think I will keep her (to protect the evidence).

On a more serious note, I've been wrappin' up my presentation for the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo.  I'm excited to hear the other presentations! You can read more about the presenters/topics by clicking here.  Tickets are available for only $14.95 and you can watch the presentations online at your convenience.  I hope you'll consider joining us.


I'm exhausted.  Shari and I are goin' to bed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Time to Link Up With Farley!

It's time for Farley's Currently link up! Can't wait to read about what everyone is currently doing...

Visit Farley at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade to link up and catch up on all the "currently" news.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Everything's Primary Expo Ticket Winners

It's official...

Katieneu, Mrs. Egley and Maggie McDowell will each receive a free ticket to the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo! Winners - send me your email and mailing address by Wednesday and I will forward your information to the ticket man.

I want to thank everyone for leaving such detailed comments about the topic of struggling readers. I addressed lots of those things in my presentation for the Everything's Primary Expo. I will try my best to address anything that I did not cover in my posts in the near future.

Remember, the virtual teaching expos are affordable ($14.95 if you register early). I hope you'll consider joining me and the other presenters for this expo.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I'm Giving Away Free Tickets!

Tickets here! Get your tickets here! 

I've always wanted to yell that out.  Another giveaway so soon?  Yep!  I'm gearing up for the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo (which is sponsored by Teaching Blog Addict and Teachers Notebook).

It's a good thing I'm gearing up, because I'm one of the presenters.  Ha! I've done lots of presentations for educators and parents in the past few years, but this is my first "virtual" presentation. My presentation at the Everything's Primary Expo will be about helping struggling readers. I hope you'll join me!  It's one of the few times that professional development is comfortable (in your own home), affordable (only $14.95 if you register early- or free if you win tickets) and presented by real teachers.

I've attended (watched in my pj's) each of other Virtual Teaching Expos this year.  After watching the Everything's Kindergarten Expo last weekend, I added 3 new components to my writer's workshop and tried 2 new transition activities in my first grade classroom.  I'm looking forward to hearing the ideas the other presenters share at the Everything's Primary Expo.  You can click on the image below to read about their hot topics.

This weekend I'm giving away 3 free tickets to the Everything's Primary Virtual Teaching Expo!  This expo is scheduled to launch on February 25th. You will get one entry for each of the things below.  Three winners will be chosen with the random generator thingy and each winner will win 1 ticket to the Everything's Primary Expo. The giveaway will end on Sunday evening (2/5).

 1.  Since my presentation is about helping struggling readers... leave a comment telling me the most challenging thing about helping your struggling readers. (1 entry)
2.  Sign up for the Virtual Teaching Expo newsletter (scroll to bottom of page and subscribe). (1 entry)

I will be announcing the winners for this giveaway on Monday (2/6)! 

Don't forget to stop by and link up to my "What Do You Love?" linky party!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What Do You Love? (Linky Party!)

It's almost Valentine's Day! This is my Valentine. As you can see, he doesn't need any extra attention from me. He draws plenty of attention all by himself. Yes, that is a giant "bling" ring and a glittery headband. It was a fundraiser for his school...just for the record.

On to the good stuff...let's talk about what we LOVE this Valentine's Day!

Here is a list of what I love (in addition to my fabulous family of course).

I'd love it if you'd consider linking up so we can all read about what you love!  You can either use the document below and add your responses or just type your "loves" into your own post.  

Let's hear it folks...what do you love?