Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year - new goal setting

So....it's January 1st that means it's goal setting time!!! I thought about setting one of the typical goals; lose weight (when don't I need to do this?!?!), exercise, blog more, leave school earlier, cook more (other than hamburger helper and mac and cheese), be that crafty mom.... but then this morning on one of those good morning shows I don't get to see during the school year I head a guy say that instead of setting a goal - choose a word!! CHOOSE A WORD?!? WOW, I thought. He explained it this way: choose a word that you want to focus on this year and then apply it to all areas of your life. So instead of picking an activity you choose a word and then make sure all you do is in line with that word. Fill your world with that world - write it everywhere so that it is ever present and reminding you of what you want to accomplish.

Examples:
Word: OPEN
Being open to new ideas, new foods (diet?!?), new activities for yourself and your family, trying new things, new relationships and experiences.

Word: GROW
Grow in knowledge (about food, exercise, a topic....), grow in relationships, experiences and life


I love it!! I love how I can't fail at this (or so I feel I can't) there is no scale telling me that cutting out my precious soda isn't working anymore, or an alarm that I once again hit snooze on instead of working out. No guilt when I look at the clock and realize that I once again I'm staying late.  Instead I am just striving to incorporate an word into my life and making sure my actions line up to that. While I may not have new clothes to show off next year for all the weight I lost or can count more hours I spent at home instead of school or a dozen crafts to show off I will have something better. I will have more happiness, experiences to share, memories to hold on to and an internal peace. I love it!!



So I bet you are wondering what my word for the new year is. I know the suspense is killing you :) My word of the year is:

FAITH



FAITH that I am a wonderful mother, great wife, amazing teacher - FAITH in myself. FAITH in my students, peers, and family. FAITH that things will work out the way that are suppose to. FAITH in  life. FAITH that I will lose the weight, that I will start to exercise, even a little and FAITH that everything I strive for will work out in some sort of way. I think that many times I get side tracked and lose the FAITH.  I start to question. I get frustrated with my imperfections and at times the imperfections in others. While I understand that I am not perfect I often find myself demanding that of myself and feeling frustrated and even angry when I fall short. If I work on having the FAITH that even my failed efforts are wonderful, great and amazing and that I have given all I have. Then I will see more of the great things happening around me as a result of my efforts instead of always seeing what else I could have or should have done. So the word, the focus, the goal of the year is:

FAITH

What's your word for the year?



P.S.
My family picked a word today: patience. At our family meeting we came up with a word that we thought everyone could work on and patient was the winner. We looked up what it means, and each week in our family meeting we will talk about how we are doing it, compliment each other on a job well done and either play a game that requires patience or read a scenario that requires someone to be patient and talk about it. We might chance our word half way through the year but we will see! I've already found a million ideas on the web and pintrest!! I'll keep you posted on all of our progress.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Awards From School!!





 So far this year I have received some awards from students, colleagues and my principal. I feel so humbled by them. I know that everyone I work with is so deserving as well. I am so blessed to work along side such amazing people that inspire me, encourage me and support me. I am equally blessed to teach and guide such dedicated students. That make my job fun and inspire and encourage me as well.

The first award I received was from the student council in October. They chose 2 staff members to receive a star for each of the 6 pillars during our kick off week. (We do character counts at our school. If you don't know about it check it out. It is amazing!!) I was chosen to received one of the stars for Fairness. Below are pictures of my star and what they wrote about me.

 



My second award came the same week!! Our theme for our staff this year is huddle together. Our role model being the penguin (yes we are Rooster Springs Elem. and the teachers have penguins as a mascot!)  If you know anything about penguins they huddle together during the coldest part of the winter to survive. They take their turn in the middle and being warm as well as in the outer circle bearing the brunt of the wind, snow and cold. At each faculty meeting we pass on a penguin to someone. We have about 5 penguins that pare passed around. I received one for all my work being the UIL coordinator!! Here is my penguin:


My final award came yesterday from my principal. I was given the Above and Beyond Award for my campus. I was presented the award at the school board meeting. I love doing what I do and I love that I have been blessed with a principal that allows me to be creative and try new things. I never dreamed that I would then get an award for that. Here is me receiving my award by a school board member:





Friday, October 25, 2013

Flipping continued....

So I am loving the flipped classroom and so are my parents! After talking with my parents at parent night and finishing all the beginning of year testing I started with LA. Right now this is how it works: every Monday night they watch a video for homework and fill out this page:

Here is your copy!


If for some reason they don't watch it at home and their parents let me know they can watch it Tuesday morning and fill it out. I call this the WSQ (whisk). I got the idea from Todd Nelsoney. It is amazing to see how much better their complete sentences have gotten.

So they are doing this for language arts and they watch the video on Monday night. What am I doing in class? Well...that's the best part. Language Arts is all small group now. I don't have a whole group teaching time because the whole group part happens at home. Here is how my small groups look:

Monday:  go over vocabulary that will be in book, predictions based on cover, picture walk.....
Tuesday: go over concept briefly (like 3-4 minutes discuss video look at WSQ page) and talk about     how that might look with the book we are going to read. Answer any questions about the concept and depending on time start reading.
Wednesday: read story and apply concept (if we don't finish the story apply concept to what we have read)
Thursday: do an activity with our book and concept (make something, something we would have done whole group with a book I would have read but now they do with what they have read) and read book at home for homework.
Friday: share, do a writing page with book (to work on written response) and  reread with partners.

Right now this is working fabulously. I know that I will have to make changes next semester when we move to chapter books but I will ponder that in a month or so :)

Where do I get the videos?
I get my videos from youtube right now. I usually find 4-8 that work and pick my favorite for the one they have to watch and then also give them the link to watch the others through out the week. Some students watch them all, some watch all several times and some watch just the one. I'm okay with all of that. Here is what my webpage looks like for the parents:

As you can see the weeks we did the language concept for more than one week I threw in a math, science or social studies video. I also attached the video page in case they need an extra one (like it doesn't make it home!!)

I think that next semester we are going to start doing lots more science and social studies videos. I always feel so pinched for time in those subjects and it helped so much when they watched one!!

Please feel free to share what you are doing and what is working with your flipped classroom or do you have any questions so you can start flipping your class?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Parent Night

At parent night I shared this video with my parents about the flipped classroom:




There are really so many good ones but I settled on this one. I also sent parents this link with some other videos about why we are a BYOD district and why technology is so important:

Parent Night Videos

Please, please check out these videos they are so great! Not only to share but to inspire you and motivate you!


Monday, August 19, 2013

August Inservice

We all have teacher inservice when we go back to school in August. This year our district is implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and is hoping to move to 1:1 in the future. I love technology and I love using it and having my students use it. It is amazing what students can do when give the option to be creative -  with technology AND without. Back to the topic at hand - inservice. Well this year I was asked to present at our technology fair so here is my presentation:

App Smashing

App Smashing is....
the process of using multiple apps in conjunction with one another to complete a final task or project.

We constantly hear, "There's an app for that!"and there is  but finding one app that does EVERYTHING that you need to create a project is almost impossible especially since every project requires different aspects and final product. App smashing allows you to use different apps to get what you want. Many of us do this without even thinking about it but being aware of the process allows us to teach it more effectively to our students and be more efficient with the process. Most apps fall into level 1 or level 2. Level 1 are easy apps to use that create products that can be "smashed" into a level 2 app.

Here is an example:



In my classroom I have app Monday. I take a about 20-30 minutes every Monday to introduce new apps. Most of these apps are ones that they later can and will use to create projects some, are games to be used in a center. Here are some examples of what I mean:

Apps to be introduced (the order will depend on what we are doing and what I need them to know)

songify                                               sock puppets                           edmodo
tellagami                                             puppet pals                             sushi monster
animator                                             skitch                                      google earth
write about                                         educreations                            
books on ipad                                     tinytap
pixntell                                               paperport notes
scribble my story                                dropbox
book creator                                       animoto
funny movie maker                            imovie
toontastic                                            prezi


There are many more that we use but these are the ones that I want everyone in class to know how to use. I introduce the app and then give them time to play with (alone or with a partner) and then we conclude by talking about it - what they can do with it, what they liked, what they want to figure out, it leads to some great converstations!!!


Here is the prezi I created and used:
http://prezi.com/ly4ufe8qxbr2/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share

Video of how it works:
https://vimeo.com/71366694

Great guide:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5732877/Ebooks/The%20Definitive%20App%20Smasher's%20Guide.pdf


Related articles:
http://www.mguhlin.org/2013/06/app-smashing-digital-poetry-ec3ta13.html?spref=bl

http://www.ipadcreative.com/blog/2013/8/1/what-is-app-smashing.html

http://edtechteacher.org/blog/2013/02/app-smashing-from-greg/

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fresh Starts!!

It's that time of year again!!! We get the email that lets us know when we can get into our classrooms and change this:
                                         

Into something like this:

from the door
reading center


Here are some of my favorite things:

Each week I will share a new fun fact. My students can also "pay" to share their own favorite fun fact!

Wall of Knowledge: after we finish a topic or unit I will add a smaller anchor chart to our wall of knowledge so they can refer back to it as needed. It looks empty now but by the end of the year it is over flowing!!
Above my horseshoe/reading table I have reading goals posted. They are the ones found in Cafe. I do a version of Cafe and so I hang all the goals up there so that as we meet and talk they, and I, can refer to them and pick one!!
My technology center. A computer on each side and a stack of 2 ipads in the middle. I also have laminated bookmarks they can use to access website with usernames and passwords. I have earbuds in small Velcro pouches and styluses.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

High needs children


I know that my blog has always been about teaching and my classroom. In the beginning I planned that it would be both teaching and about my boys. That hasn't happened but this summer as I have worked tirelessly and endlessly with and for my son who has ADHD, sensory processing disorder and severe anxiety I felt called to share some things but didn't know what. This week I came across a blog in which a mother listed 10 things she wished people knew about parenting a special needs child. While I don't have a special needs child I  do have what they call a high needs child and I related to much of what she said.  So, I took what she wrote, changed, added, deleted and adapted it to the 5 things I wish others knew when it comes to parenting a high needs child. I thought I would share because a classroom where there isn't a ADHD child is rare. Here is me not being a teacher but a parent, like the parents you have and meet with, sharing what it's like raising a child with needs. 

If you only knew: 

1.  We don’t have any extra energy or more patience or understanding than anyone else.  
It feels dismissive when people say, ‘God will only give you what you can handle, He must have known you could handle it.’ Yes, we’re handling it, and we understand that you can’t imagine yourself in our shoes, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any easier for us than it would be for you.

2. The emotional enormity of it is exhausting.
Emotionally every developmental change, grade change, choosing treatments (alternative, medicine.....), supervising actions, words and activities and making medical decisions (doctors, therapy...) are exhausting year after year. Every decision that is made has been talked about - A LOT, tears shed about it and well thought out. Please respect it even if you don't understand it. 

3.  The services available are difficult to navigate and expensive.  
Many assume that if you had a high needs child you just sign up for services, and someone told you exactly what to do, what you qualified for, and always acted in your child’s best interest.  In most cases the parents have to really network with other parents to see what’s available, apply and re-apply for a correct diagnosis, and fight through red tape to get the child to be placed in the appropriate setting. And then do it all over again in 12 months when their developmental needs change.  For expenses- there is so much out there, but it costs so much! Speech therapy $60 twice a week, $70 for sensory integration once a week, $200 a counseling session, $300 a month for meds…

4.  Our priorities change based on the entire family.  
Sometimes we are focusing on limiting screen time, sometimes we’re focused on a behavior issue, sometimes it’s academic, sometimes it’s just maintaining the progress we’ve made so far because the family is going through some other transition.  It’s impossible for all of us (child and parents) to focus 100% on everything at once, so it may look like we’re changing our mind and jumping around a lot.  But, I promise we’re not doing this for fun or because we’re bored- we’re trying to find what works best for our family.

5.  My child’s behavior issues are not from poor parenting.  
Yes, consistency and routine usually help, but the way my child’s brain is wired and the issues he deals with make him not respond to regular parenting techniques the way a typically developing child would.  I wish I could avoid the glares when we are out for what seems like an age-inappropriate meltdown. But, we still have to go buy groceries, go to the bank, and get our car fixed just like everyone else – and sometimes plans can’t work around our child’s issues, so they may be fussing in the store.  It’s just how it is.

adapted from: http://www.healthhomeh