Thursday, January 22, 2015

Taking One for the Team

It is more blessed to give than to receive.. Acts 20:35b, NIV

Whew! What a day! I just need to brag about how blessed I am.  I have an outstanding group of students this year.

We have had the privilege to be a model classroom for writer's workshop.  Our district purchased the Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for grades 3, 4, and 5 this year (last year they purchased grades K, 1, and 2).  My room is one of the 3rd grade classrooms that is used to conduct model lessons.  Before we begin each unit of study, the district-hired consultant does a one day workshop on the unit of study.  For one hour during the workshop, we go into my classroom and use my students in a model lesson.  Today was our third workshop in preparation for the third unit of study - Changing the World.

So this morning was hectic (of course ... it's the day of the workshop).  Stopping at Dunkin Donuts ... twice ..., getting to school late later than I normally do, wanting to prep and clean my room, still write sub plans for the day, hang up student work, cover my bases before teachers start taking pictures of my room. ;)
Well, I was going downstairs to our library where the workshop was to be held and the other two Language Arts/Writing teachers (since I'm the general education self-contained classroom and they are departmentalized classes) informed me that there were no substitutes for them! :(  My heart broke.  We were like the three musketeers during the workshops!  Each workshop we have "hosted" we have provided some type of food - candy, muffins, munchkins.  

Like I said, my heart was broken.  I felt terrible that I received the substitute teacher and they did not.  I wanted to bless those teachers and give them the chance to be in the workshop for teaching writing.  I am able to do outside workshops and Lucy Calkins Saturday Reunions - plus the fact that I had done this opinion writing unit last year - so it wasn't right for me to steal that time and professional development hours from my colleagues.  I decided to seek out my VP and ask for permission to give up my sub to one of the other teachers and I would take in the other classroom that did not have a sub.  So I got approval ... finally the students enter my room .... my two colleagues go downstairs to the library for the workshop .... I have 45 students in my room . . . . . . . 

I remember looking at the clock thinking to myself, "I have 2 hours until Writer's Workshop comes into the room.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.  Here goes nothing."

So we read ... 

Our unit is currently ..... I guess you could say Nonfiction.  (I hesitate because our unit assessment is on fables.)  We are following the University of Pittsburgh's IFL Unit "An Investigation into Ocean Animal Life".  Because of the short amount of time in our 3rd academic unit for the year, we have to pick which IFL tasks to focus on.  I've been spending time doing read alouds on the ocean topics ... and today I read Endangered Penguins.

That actually went really well!  It was the best feeling watching the guest students grab some of the ocean nonfiction books we had in our classroom. Students were reading independently, in a pair, and even trios.  They couldn't wait to share and tell me some ALL of the interesting facts that they found! It was so cute! 

I didn't want to end reader's workshop. :(  There was a lot of commotion book talk in the room.  I was running around like a chicken without a head maintaining sanity ensuring students were on task.  All 45 students were just engrossed in books.  As a teacher, I don't get that all the time - the time to step back and just observe what is really going on in the classroom.

So we moved from reader's workshop and did a little bit of writer's workshop.  What a flexible bunch of students! They were so attentive and cooperative.  

At 10:30, our guests started to enter the classroom and our visiting students went to their special.  My students had "lost" their special to take that hour to do a model lesson for writers workshop.  After not expecting me for the day, having another 22 students in the room, then having 25 guest teachers, my students are real troopers ... taking one for the team.  Their writing has truly immersed and the volume of their writing has grown.  I couldn't be prouder.  For approximately 40 minutes, while our writing consultant conferred with some students, the rest of the class was engrossed in writing compliment letters.  Some students wrote three different letters!  

 The model writing lesson went into the students' lunch, so they lost their recess time. :(  They went down to lunch then for the afternoon, we worked on a math task - exploring improper fractions! (An IFL Unit for 3rd grade math - HIGHLY recommend it!)

I wanted to make up for the students losing their recess time, not having physical education (for writer's workshop), and just being so flexible.  The last few minutes at the end of the day, we packed up early.  I let them just have free time - they could play with play dough, use the computers, play "teacher", use our story making kits, or play a Lakeshore Landforms game that we had.  I forgot how much I had "robbed" them of their creativity in learning. :(

One student automatically took play dough and made a snail!  Then students started getting sooo creative!  Their imaginations and zest for learning ... that can't be taken away. :)

I had to take a picture of this!  My student drew this on the board to mimic a picture that our opera teacher drew!  He was pretty on point!

 This is the picture of what our opera teacher drew to explain the roles of the opera!

This student took play dough and made a person! :)

This student made FRACTIONS with his play dough! #neverstoplearning

Our Lakeshore Landforms on-the-go game.

Some students on the computers playing math games.  

I'm just really proud of my students.  They rose to the occasion and "took one for the team."  They were flexible.  They didn't complain.  It was a nonstop day, but they didn't let it hinder their love for learning and the respect they have for themselves, their classroom, and their school.  I couldn't be prouder to be their teacher.  

They are loved, and I am blessed.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Liebster Award !

Well ! What a surprise ! I've been nominated from Leanna at A Little of Lili for the Liebster Award!

 So now that I've been nominated, I must answer these 11 questions then nominate 11 bloggers with under 200 followers to do the same! :)  How exciting!!

Here it is ...

Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I've been blogging inconsistenly since September 2013.  I started because I wanted to track my journey and life of being a teacher.

What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Journey.  It's my journey and what my life has been since starting teaching.  
but I think progress is a more accurate portrayal for now ... and progress is such a broad word to encompass what we do as a teacher.  We strive for progress in ourselves, and we want to see our students progress.

Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey that you wish you wish you had known before?
Hmm... I can't think of anything.  I do wish I had learned (or realized) to do blogging for me and not feel so much like I have to compete and BE everyone else.  I just need to be the teacher that God gifted me to be.  

What is your favorite past time other than blogging?
Reading . Running / Working Out . Family . 

How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog?
Not enough.. :(  I'm getting better though!  Getting back into it so that I have a log, a place to reflect and grow. :)  #progress ;)

What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
Teacher blogs! of course, <3.

Where does your blog inspiration come from?
The conversations that go on in my head throughout the day .. the struggles, frustrations, joys, highs, lows, questions... yah know.  :)  Ultimately, I want to grow and make more professional and personal relationships with others who share the same passion for teaching that I do. 

Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
I think my last post, New Year's 2015 Resolution, is the post that I am most proud of.  I think it's because I'm so #content with it ... I have a happiness about it and it's a word that goes through my head more than once a day.  :)

Is there any post that you've been planning to do but you've been postponing?
Yes, I've had a few ideas.  Things that I want to open up for others to add their input .. math, data, workshop models to use in a classroom, that kinda stuff.

What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
There's a freedom in blogging.  You can write about anything.  You can write a post and save it to be posted at another time.  You can schedule when you want it to be published.  But I love the freedom that comes with the topic .. It's like free writing for students.  And it's always there to reflect on.

Which recipe, project, or idea from my blog would you like to try yourself?
I'd love to make A LOT of the foods I have on pinterest, but I'd also like to work on adding projects to my TpT store.  /=

I now nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award!  :)

Sherri @ Literary Sherri

Now that you've been nominated, you must do the following to receive your award:

1. In your post, link back to me, the blogger who nominated you, as a thank you and "shout out."
2. Answer the 11 questions I answered (above).
3. Nominate 11 bloggers that have less than 200 followers.  You may give them 11 questions or they can answer the same questions you did.
4. Let your nominees know they've been nominated and provide them with a link back to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so (s)he can learn more about you as well.  (You can just put your post link in the comments below). :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year's 2015 Resolution

I'm linking up with Primary Powers One Word Resolutions Linky!

My one word resolution for 2015 .....


I thought about "balance" or "joy", but contentment seemed to be the best fit.  Contentment in the little things in life, the BIG THINGS, and just myself - that life isn't a competition of trying to be-like-everybody-else and do-what-everyone-else-is-doing.  It's what Paul writes in Philippians 4 ..

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13, NIV

While I will work on some other things - staying on top of grading, lesson planning, working out, and finding all that balance - my goal is just. be. content.. with myself.  Don't get down on myself for something I didn't do/haven't done/can't do - I can't beat myself up.  God's mercy is new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV

Happy New Year! :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Currently: 2015!

Wow! I can't believe it's 2015! I feel like time (and a little bit of life) is flying by.  Ringing in the New Year means that this *school year* is almost half way through; it's like overcoming the school-year-hill once going back to school following winter break (even though the Spring is a longer school time period).  Still!  It's a great time to reflect on what is working in the classroom and what isn't.  It's given me the opportunity to look back at how much I feel has been accomplished in this school year.  I'm not stressing and panicking like last year. -_-

So that leaves time to link up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade and  fill you in on my Currently January!

Well, that's pretty self-explanatory.  Outside of the washer and dryer, I *love, love, love* the Golden Girls!  I started watching them when I was in like elementary school! Almost 15 years ago!  I remember when they were played on Lifetime.  ha ha!  So I asked for the Golden Girls complete set on DVD for my birthday this past summer I play it 24/7! 

Winter break was much needed and soooo relaxing.  I took a few days to lifeguard and make some extra money.  That's always a good thing because it keeps me busy during the break, not lounging around on the couch all day.  It's better that I actually can get some work done during my work breaks.  
But I'm also loving how many ideas are starting to come to me about resources to use with my students and upload to TpT to *hopefully* help other teachers and the students in their classrooms.  It's just frightening actually opening up a store!  Following all the rules and policies and not wanting to accidentally copyright or plagiarize.  AHHHHH! But I'm seeing quite a few posts on Instagram, #becauseoftpt, and I would love to have that same blessing!  I realize I have a few big life expenses coming in the very near future (a wedding, house, honeymoon, etc..) and it would be helpful to have that "extra" income. 

I've been working on putting some things together for my students to use, but it's a little overwhelming how to put the whole thing together knowing I can upload it to TpT!

If I can be honest, I am not looking forward to the how I have to teach the what I have to teach.  My district has purchased a particular unit that we are required us to teach for Nonfiction.  (Sidenote: we are teaching Nonfiction but our students are taking their Unit Assessment on Fables.)  Back to my thoughts, I have had such a great routine going with Reader's Workshop that the required unit is quite different from the Lucy Calkins' way of how I run Reader's Workshop! :(  
Needless to say, I have procrastinated preparing for January/Februrary. #notlookingforwardtoit

Ahh, yes - the infamous "workout" aka "exercise" aka "fitness"...
During the winter break, I started to get back to the gym!  I wanted to give back to my body and feel the way that I used to feel when I was a fitness instructor at my gym.  Outside of how physically uncomfortable it is to be at the gym (you know - endurance, stamina, that stuff), the biggest workout that you get is to your mental thoughts/the little voices that go back in forth in your head of "No, I can't!" to "Yes, I can!" I was doing pretty well for the first week being out of school, now I just need to keep with it.  Every day is a new day to eat better and make time to give back to my body, just staying fit and preventing health issues in the future.

Yes, Maybe a Wish
I started to apply for this prestigious award/reflective classroom practice summer program last year, but I did not feel it was the right time as I was unsure how to answer some of the questions.  They asked about data and how do I improve data from year to year.  Well, I hadn't taught for a full year so I had no "baseline" to use.  Realizing I am a legitimate year into my teaching career, I figured "Why not this year?"  There doesn't seem to be an overwhelming amount of elementary teachers that go for this award, so maybe that will go in my favor.  But it would just be an amazing accomplishment and a humbling experience to even be considered as a finalist for this award.

All prayer are appreciated. ;)

p.s.. Also *Wanting* my classroom Donors Choose project to be fully funded!

Go link up with Farley and all other teacher bloggers at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Taking Learning to the Next Level

I recently joined the Donors Choose community (as a teacher) to request supplies for my students.  If you are not aware, Donors Choose is a website for public school teachers to request classroom supplies ranging from the "little" things like paper, pens, and the necessities to bigger projects like classroom furniture, science kits, and technology.  As a teacher, you create an account to describe your classroom, school, and community/environment.  You are then given a certain amount of "points" allotted by Donors Choose to pick a project to start.  Then you get to explain why you're requesting those particular items!

This is my current (and FIRST!) Donors Choose project!  I requested a classroom carpet that will seat 30 students and two Samsung chrome books.  I am requesting such a large carpet because the amount of students that I have had year to year varies.  Plus, the added room will enhance student learning.  They will have the freedom and space to work on the rug or listen and participate in a mini-lesson. I am requesting the chrome books because I know how helpful it would be for my students to work outside of just our computer center.  I can just picture my students working at their desks as they research information for their nonfiction writing or using our Accelerated Math or Accelerated Reader programs.  It will be so helpful to have these as they will also be beneficial for my students to practice their keyboarding skills.  We only have 4 computers in our classroom, and while we are grateful for at least having four *working* computers, two chrome books would allow more flexibility.

So far, four generous donors have contributed to our project! Together, their generosity equates to the coverage for one of our chrome books!  YAY!  Just a little more to go!

Won't you consider helping us Take Learning to the Next Level ??? :)