Monday, December 30, 2013

Time for Resolutions

I'm linking up with A Peach for the Teach for a Resolution Link Up.

In 2014, I'll be taking some "somewhat progressive" steps to take care of myself.  
My efforts will focus on cancer prevention, 
because of the cancer history in my family.
Transitioning to 40 this year, was a shock in many ways. 
Being 40 wasn't something that I worried about up to this year. 
But when it happened, I realized how much harder it is 
to take care of my body at this age.
I just need to work harder this year to take care of myself.
That's the plan and I'm stickin' to it.

The comment thing is a whole post in itself.  Coming soon...

Looking forward to a happy and healthy 2014 and wishing you all the same!

Please visit A Peach for the Teach to read some other resolutions!

A Peach for the Teach: Behavior Supports & Multi-Age

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Classroom Gifts for Students and Parents (freebie)

In the spirit of prioritizing my life, I put making a few of the posts that I wanted to make before the holidays on the bottom of my holiday to do list. Just now made it to that part of my list...

Every year, I scramble to find a gift for my students for the holidays.  For my first several years of teaching, I gave each student a book.  This year, I found a gift for my students that was meaningful to me and I hope they liked it too.  I say "hoped" because I give my students their gifts on the last day of school before break, but I ask them not to open it until they get home with their families (or they can save it for Christmas morning).

Growing up, my family had a tradition.  My parents gave my brother and I a tool, a kitchen item and a book each Christmas (along with whatever else we got from Santa). They continued that tradition until we were out of college (although I did get a tool and a kitchen item from them this year as well).  The idea was to prepare us to be successful adults with our own tools for repairs and cooking and all the knowledge we would need to be successful.  We started the same tradition with our own children this year.  My son, who is 7, got a level (for his toolkit), a spatula and a chapter book.  My daughter, who is 10,  got two screwdrivers, a mixing bowl and a chapter book.

My gift for my students...

I gave each student a little bag with a cookie cutter and a coin pouch.  The cookie cutter was an effort to share my family tradition and the coin pouch is the exact same kind my grandfather carries (still to this day).  When we were little, he would take the coin pouch out of his pocket and give us a coin to get a piece of Chiclets gum.  I included a note in each child's bag to tell them about our tradition and my special memories of grandpa's coin pouch.

For the parents...

Each of my students made a handmade ornament for their parents and a 2014 memory jar for their family.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the ornaments.  I was busy managing the jar station (since glass was involved).  The kids were so proud of both gifts!

The memory jar is also a tradition in my family.  We put little items in a jar that remind us of our special memories throughout the year.  Some of the things in my family jar this year include: a Petoskey stone, a shell from Grand Turk, a birthday invite from my husband's 40th bday party, a ticket from my daughter's dance recital, a program from the circus production my son was in, a ticket to a baseball game and a Taylor Swift concert ticket.  I shared the contents of our 2013 jar with my class, so they would understand the tradition.

I ordered pint and half size canning jars, bought a variety of ribbon and made the tags.  My husband made the stickers that say (2014 and Dexter) for each jar.  Dexter is the name of the village.

In this view, you can see the 2014 sticker on the side and the Dexter sticker on the lid.

Here are the stickers (thank you, husband).  Each student put their own stickers on the jar, chose a ribbon, punched a hole in the tag and tied the ribbon.  Not a ton of creativity on their part, but a thoughtful gift to go with their homemade ornament.

You can download a copy of the tag I used if you would like to use it next year.  I removed the year, so it wouldn't say 2014.  

I'm off to walk my dogs while the sun is shining and before the cold weather moves into our area.  Need to take advantage of the mid 30 degree temps while I can.  How funny is that?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

No Elf on My Shelf

Hello. My name is Kimberly and I do not have an elf on my shelf. 
 It's true. 
Over the past two years, I started to think I might be the only mom in 
America without an elf on my shelf. 
Just this year, I realized that I might now be the only teacher 
without an elf on my shelf. 
To be honest, I'm trying to get rid of some of the cr*p on my shelves. 
Please know that I do love the idea...just not the time required 
to manage the whole thing.
I know, kids love it.
I still have no plans to put an elf on my shelf.
Call me a party pooper...but, really I'm learning (slowly) to prioritize.
The truth is that I just can not do everything.
I know, right?  Ughh...why did it take me 40 years to figure that out?

The truth is that I want to have an instagram account (or is it an app? Ha!).
And...I wish I knew how to DVR
(but I can't figure out if you need a machine for that).
And...I've never heard of most of the reality TV shows 
that are mentioned on some of my favorite blogs.
And... for almost a year I truly thought Downton Abbey was a show about nuns.

This year, I've learned that being me (the mom without an elf on her shelf, who doesn't know how to DVR and who was slightly disappointed that there were no nuns on Downton Abbey) is really ok. 
I do other stuff and some of it I do really well.  Some of it, I'm workin' on improving.
I'm just plain me...the mom/teacher without an elf on her shelf.

In the world of teaching, being a working mom, blogging and Pinterest-perfect ideas 
it is easy to feel like you are missing out in some way if you don't jump at every idea/event/opportunity.
It's important for me to remind myself that being me is good enough, 
because I know that I am doing everything I can 
to balance and prioritize this crazy life that I am blessed to live.
Life is good - even if you don't have an elf on your shelf. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Principal for the Day

For 3 days, 3 teachers took turns substituting for our principal 
while he was at a conference last week.
This is a true story, although I can really only share parts.
Thursday was my day.

I love teaching.
However, being the principal is a totally different experience
than my "normal" day.
Especially, when you are filling in the for the Principal of the Year!
Seriously, he is really the Principal of the Year
(the kind you get nominated for, voted in and awarded lots of awards for).
He's also superman (I mean - Zero the Hero).
He'll do just about anything for the kids.

So, last Thursday was my day to give it a try.
One of the kindergarten teachers tried it on Wednesday and she did a fine job.
Then came Thursday...

I started off the day by reading his substitute plans 7 times (good luck).
Then I bought flowers for the secretaries.
Let's face it, the whole place could start to crumble
and these two ladies could have it all back in order before anyone noticed
(and they would still be wearing those beautiful smiles).
We'll call them Wonder Women (WW).

Before school started, I considered whipping up some curtains to bring some color to his fancy office.

Suddenly, that seemed like a bad idea, since I had to gather all the gear for morning bus duty.

The WW didn't really think I needed the mega phone,
but since I'm so short and don't know every single kids name
(like Mr. Principal of the Year does - for real),
I decided to take the megaphone in case I needed to yell out something official.
The WW insisted that the pink vest was not an option,
 although I felt like a pig in a pink blanket in that dress/vest.

I can't tell you how I really spent my morning,
since the office work involves top secret confidential student kind of stuff (TSCSKS).
But, let me just tell you...I did not feel like a secret agent.

I did feel well prepared for lunch room duty though.
whistle to get their attention (check)
rubber gloves so I could avoid slimey trash (check)
windex because I take it everywhere (check)
giant trashcan to help me look official (check)
headphones to block out the thunder - which I think might be little people voices (check)

Would you believe that I didn't actually have time to help in the lunchroom much on my big day?
Turns out I was busy with TSCSKS.
But, boy was I prepared - just in case.

And after spending my day doing TSCSKS I spent several minutes jumping before I went home.
Not jumping for joy that I was heading back to my normal life on Friday.
Jumping up and down to try to hang up the pink vest
after bus duty at dismissal.
Zero the Hero is much taller than I am
and so are the hooks in his office.

I'm happy to report that Mr. Principal of the Year is back in action this week.
Three cheers for principals everywhere
and an extra big one for Mr. Principal of the Year
and our Wonder Women!
Thanks for leading us!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Technology Tuesday (4th edition)

I am happy to report that there are 
only two more Tuesdays before winter break!  
Oh, how I need that break.  Don't you?

My students are loving the mini iPads that we have in our classroom.
One of our favorite writing apps is Write About This.  We use it for practicing writing to a prompt and for capturing/writing about images of student learning in our own classroom.

The app costs 3.99 and I think it's well worth the money.  There is a free version of this app.  I would recommend downloading that one first to make sure you like it, but the 3.99 version allows you to take/save your own images and writing about those images. It has allowed us to create a photo journal of the learning that takes place in our classroom over time.

Here is a screen shot of one of the main screens.  

There are tons of photos w/prompts included in the categories section. You can also take your own photos and add your own text about the pictures.  The format is easy for kids to use and I'm finding it's a real motivator for a few of my students who are reluctant writers.

I'm off to see if I can finish the tree decorating.  Seriously, our schedule has been BONKERS!
Hope ya'll are staying warm...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Currently, I'm 3 Days Late

No, not my period. 3 days late for Farley's Currently. How could I be number 288ish if I'm only 3 days late? That girl knows how to throw a party!  Late to the party...but here I am.

During this busy season, I'm trying really hard to look around and enjoy each event, each moment, each opportunity to be with the people who mean the most to me.  I will enjoy the twinkle of holiday lights, smile when I see my students faces light up at the mention of Santa Claus and cherish the time with my own family.

Now, off I go to find out what all 288ish of the others who arrived at the party on time (or not quite as late as me) are currently doing!  You can visit Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to catch up with everyone or join the fun!

More Technology Tuesday next week...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday and Winter Themed Products (sale + freebies)

The Tpt cyber Monday/Tuesday sale starts tomorrow!

I'm posting about some of my winter and holiday themed products. 

I use this penguin unit to model nonfiction animal research with my students.
My students always love the nonfiction penguin unit!  
After this unit, the students do their own animal research projects 
with my Animal Research Book to guide them through the steps to writing research.

Animal Research Book (best seller)

Jolly Moose Short Vowel Sort - perfect for word work, literacy centers or individualized skill practice!

Merry Monkey Digraph Sort (word work, literacy center activity or individualized practice)

Holiday Making Words Pack (literacy center, word work)

 Winter Math Journal Prompts (I also have a fall and spring set of math journal prompts).

I also have several freebies in my store that are winter or holiday themed.
If you visit my store to download a freebie, please follow my store if you don't already.

Here are some of the freebies...