Thursday, January 29, 2015

10 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers

Hello everyone!  I had originally planned to start the new year off with this linky, but decided that I wanted let my 'habits' ferment for a bit so that I could really make a plan for myself.  I am looking at these as not really New Years Resolutions, but as ways to let my talents shine.

What are your talents? Can you walk and chew gum at the same time?  I love to lead professional developments with my district.  At one time my goal was to go nation-wide and help teach other teachers what I had learned and what I had found helpful in my classroom.  But that all changed when our 2 little bundles of joys arrived on the scene.  We had waited and waited and wanted and wanted children so when the opportunity came for us to adopt our 2 kids we jumped at it and signed on to adopt them without even laying eyes on them.  My 'golden opportunity' to become a mom was much ore important than the opportunity to leave professional development.

Today, like most moms that teach, I struggle to balance my workload that comes home with me and spending quality time with my family.

So what is my goal?  My goal is to become a better mom.  My job as a Christian wife and mom is much more important than my job as a teacher.

Did you ever stop to think that every teacher that blogs and/or sells materials on Teachers Pay Teachers are Grade A Problem Solvers???  It's true!  Every lesson that is born inside the mind of these teachers blooms because there is a problem <such as lack of materials> to solve.

So what is my goal?  I have many <probably about 80 or 90> 'half baked' lessons that I need to finish.  If you follow my life at all you know it is filled with 'Trauma and Drama'.  So, I would get half way through with a project and use what I got finished in my classroom with the intent that I would finish it as soon as I could 'find the time'.  So, my goal is go through my hard drive and get those babies finished.  There may be someone else out there with the same need.

Do you ever get caught in the middle of something and you wonder just why you are where you are?  Kind of confusing, I know!  Sometimes I just have to sit and watch to figure out what lesson life is trying to teacher me.

What is my goal?  To remember that life should never be written in pen.  The chewed up #2 pencil and the half used eraser may be much more powerful and more important than you think.  In fact, I think this is my new motto!

I have to admit, this is one I need to work on. My poor husband hears it all.  But, since my goal is to NEVER EVER COMPLAIN I am not even going to get into one of my stories here!  My sister has a saying that she got from a GREAT BOOK:

When my mother passed away, I got very frustrated with God for allowing her to suffer for so long.  I was actually asking Him to take my mama into his arms.  After several days, HE did, and then I was frustrated with HIM because she was gone.  My sister told me then that I need to just Be Still and Glory in all that God had given us.  He gave us a wonderful mom for many years and now it was HIS turn to spend time with her.  Every night I pray to God that he will let my mom come and visit me in my dreams.  And sometimes she does.

The easiest way to do this is to learn from mistakes.  I think my biggest talent is MAKING MISTAKES!  I am one of the biggest goofballs around so I am always messing something up.  When I was younger I would cringe whenever I goofed up but now, at the ripe old age of 42, I have learned to embrace my mistakes and use them as life lessons.

My biggest talent is that I am an 'idea' person.  I can come up with great ideas but struggle to get started or better yet, finish strong. This talent has always brought me to #6!

So what is my goal here?  To get some sidekicks to help me put my ideas into motion!

Throughout my career I have always had an instinct that carried me to the most positive, selfless people in the world.  I have learned so much from them!  These days as I look at the blogging world I can honestly say that I am friends with some of the best bloggers in the world.  We may not physically know each other but as far as our work goes, we are very in tune.  I hesitate to name names right now because I don't want to forget anyone, but many of the most successful bloggers I know and admire are found on our blog, Owlways Be Inspired.  This blog is authored by some of the most humble, yet super creative ladies.  I am in awe of them.

What is my goal here?  To continue to work with these lades professionally and learn from them as I go.

I would say that I have that one knocked out.  I am probably TOO ambitious because I get too many irons in the fire.  Someone asked me the other day if I had a 'bucket list' written up.  I thought that one over for a few seconds and told her that I am pretty ok with where I am not.  There are things in my life that I am not totally enthused about  but I am getting there.  Before you can be ambitious you have to honestly understand who you are and where you are.  

So what is my goal?  To just make it through today!

If you have followed me long you know that this is my 3rd, but best, blog.  I started out as 

and switched to

and now I am here at 

and I feel like this is home!

I've always heard that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.  I used to thnk that wasn't true at all.  Now I'm not sure at all.  After 20 years of teaching my district has thrown several new endeavors at us in the last 2 years.....First there were Habits of Mind and Habits of Interaction and then we were off to include Number Talks and then there is the 'yes we do anchor charts in math' and the 'no, we only do public records in math'.  So now we are off to literacy where Jan Richardson is Queen of Guided Reading while Fountas and Pinnell have been moved to the back of the bus.  And, I can't forget Lucy Calkins.  I'm sure she is a really nice lady, but each of her lessons are like reading a thesis.  I simply don't have time to perfect all of these at one time, but I can work on them at my own pace.  I have found that I can be 'sneaky' in my learning and watch some Jan Richardson videos or take part in the number talk book study over at Adventures in Guided Math.  And--Hint Hint Hint--these 2 books below come with their own DVDs and believe me, I watch them.  Over and Over.  Why?  Because...

What is my goal here?  To Never Stop Learning!

These Jan Richardson videos are saving my life--and my evaluation since we have gone full fledge 'Jan' at my school.  Even if you don't go page by page with her method, these videos will help you with guided reading!

I just bought this book on number talks. I am excited there is a DVD that comes with it.  I think it will help me a lot!

I have been in school for 37 years in some way, shape, or form.  I have 3 degrees which I am still paying for.  The last of which was designed to help me land an administrative position.  But, I soon saw that I didn't want to be an administrator so I became a blogger instead.  It is much more fun!!  Do I regret working so hard on that last degree in supervision and administration?  Not at all.  It takes me back to #1, #2, #3, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, and #10.  I ave to confess that #4 was a pretty hard one because I know without a doubt I complained about the work or the endless thesis revisions, but hey, nobody is perfect!!

I hope that you will take the chance to link up with me!  I'd love to see what you have going on in your life that makes you a Highly Functioning Teacher!

Here's how to play!
1.  Follow this blog.
2.  Link up!  Be sure to link back.
3.  Visit at least 3 other blogs
4.  Leave the 3 blogs some comments.
5.  Share the love!  Post on FB, Twitter, etc.

Using Really Good Stuff Catalogs

Hi all!  I am really huge fan of Really Good Stuff.  Their catalogs are like a Christmas Wish Book for me!  In fact, I save my birthday money just to buy the things I want from that catalog.  I can spend hours on their website!

I have been using cards like these <but hand-written> for years, so I thought it would be nice to ‘do them all up’ nice and pretty this year and share them.  I made these back in my 'best practices' days but they are just as fun to use now as they were then!

My students also love to look through the catalogs to see what is out there for teachers to buy.  Sometimes I even get a note asking to buy a certain item.  If you would like to download these cards from my Dropbox account, just click on the picture!

If you need a catalog, just click on the link and get one!  Most importantly, have fun with the cards.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Black History Favorites

Hello!  It is almost February and we are pulling out our favorite people and our favorite books!  These are my 'must reads' and the downloadables that I use in my classroom.  Enjoy!!

Henry's Freedom Box is one of my favorites!  I love the fact that he was so dedicated to gaining his freedom that he was willing to do anything to gain it.  I use an awesome little pack from Cara Taylor when I teach this book.

Henry's Freedom Box:  A True Story from the Underground Railroad (1849) by Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson

We already know that the National Geographic books are some of the best so I grabbed this copy from our library at school.  One of my favorite things to do to teach about Rosa Parks is to dramatize the bus situation.  I use wonderful little unit by Emily Education for this book.

Ruby Bridges autobiography is awesome.  My kids hang on to every word because they just can't imagine what she went through, but then as they hear the story unfold they get truly angry and we have lively discussions.  I use a cute little pack by Rebecca Wrenn with this book.

Ruby Bridges Goes to School:  My True Story (1960) by Ruby Bridges

The next two books are also great to read and dramatize.  We spend some time talking about the Title of the first book because it can be sort of confusing.  They get confused with the sit-in, stood up, and sitting down.  Freedom on the Menu is told through the eyes of a little girl that watched the Sit-In at the counter unfold.  Hearing her thoughts as the actions unfold is a powerful way to communicate how brave the four men were.  Jessica Scott's unit for Freedom on the Menu is really good.

Sit-In:  How Four Friends stood Up by Sitting Down (1960) by Andrea D. and Brian Pinkney

sit in

Freedom on the Menu by 

Moses has to be my favorite of all that I use.  We talk about why the author chose the title and what it means.  I do compare her story to the Moses in the Bible so that they can understand the title is perfect.  Here is a link to the packet I use with this book.

Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson

I hope these books and links help you.  Let me know about your favorite books down in the comment section.  I randomly choose from comments to send prizes!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pretty Cool Stuff For Kids!!

Hi everybody!  I took some time to meander around the Internet tonight just to take a look around some different sites that I had bookmarked.  I thought I would share the best of them with you.  

I think this site is pretty cool. It has some oldie-but-goodie games like Simon <remember those lights blinking and how you tried to copy the pattern???> and some really nice 'brain challenging' toys as well.  Some of these I looked at for Christmas like the Q-Ba-Maze kit and I think I may go back to grab the drum set that they have.  

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Author's Note To My Sister: This drum set is for the cutest nephew an aunt could have!!  Beware!!  I may also buy a kazoo.  By the way, thanks for the accordion.  NOT!!

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So go ahead and click on this graphic below to check out all of the cool stuff.  Maybe you can give your nephew an accordion and start a tradition of supplying kids with LOUD and NOISY gifts!


Next I went and grabbed the free DVD.  It makes a nifty birthday gift to keep on hand for emergency parties!!!  This site is about character education.  My boys LOVE them.  I think I previously say them on Educents.

If you have a child that is just beginning to 'work' or 'play' on the Internet, this is a fantastic site.  The name of National Geographic alone should make you feel better about time spent online.  

Next up is FabKids.  I.  Love.  This.  Place.!!!!!  They have the cutest clothes for little guys and gals!!  I love to go look at new outfits even if I'm not going to buy.  My secret to making sure I have enough money for bills is that I click on all of the wonderful things I see and then just leave.  I have gotten the 'shopping' our of my system and didn't pay a dime.  Anyway, I suggest that you just go and take some time to 'dream'!!

Inbox Dollars is pretty cool.  I got a $30 check from them right at Christmas which I promptly added to my Christmas budget.  It takes a while to build up, but free money for spending a few minutes looking at something is good money, in my book!!  I can promise you that they are a legitimate site.

Next up is Zulilly. I love this site. I go here and 'shop and disappear' also but I have a few things for my my 2 month old niece and 1 year old nephew.  

Below you will find a link to eBates.  If you haven't checked this out you really, really need to!  You can save money really quickly

And last but not least, there is the Kiwi Crate.  They have such cute things for kids and I've been lucky enough to pick up a few deals here and there that I have been able to do in my classroom.  I love all of their DIY ideas, too.  Right now they are having a giveaway for $10.  HOLLA!  I Went to sign up as soon as I clicked on it.  I want my name in that drawing!

Good luck with your shopping!!  If you order something, feel free to leave a link in the comments so that we can take a look also! <especially if it is a really loud game I can give to my sister's kids!!>

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