Sunday, August 26, 2012

Food For Thought, With the 1st Day Upon Me (Us)

Why I Hated Meredith's First Grade Teacher: An Open Letter to America's Teachers

What a sweet, amusing reflection on the profound effect we as teachers can have on our students.  Warning: I did cry.  I am the weepiest son of a gun... God help me when I have children.

With tomorrow being the first day again with my lovely 5th graders...I will strive to keep this in mind every day.

Sorry for the short post, but preservice week certainly kept me busy.  I am significantly happier with my room this year, though!  Pictures to follow once it's done-done.

Have a great first day everyone who hasn't started yet! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blogging Ideas

This is like a write-as-I-go type entry, so you will definitely be seeing me solve my own dilemmas in this post.  I hope it helps anyone who is interested in starting a blog, but wasn't sure what to do or how to start like myself. STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS! That's the fancy term for what I'm talking about.  Sorry for the all caps.  I couldn't remember the name for it, it bugged me, and I figured it out. Hooray!!

Introduce writing posts & commenting etiquette by creating a "paper blog."  Lesson found here.  It's filled with truly wonderful ideas... I would be thrilled to give this project a shot!  And I think the final results would make for great bulletin boards!  Like I believe the page mentions, it's great for students who have been together since they were old enough to be in a school setting to learn something new about their peers.  My group is in the same situation!

Adding comments to a paper blog.

I found a few ready-made permission slips, each with brilliant ideas.  One being choose your child's privacy level.  If memory serves, kidblog would allow me to customize each kid's settings.

This site has ideas for blogging activities, which is a great springboard for me.  I'm kind of liking the idea of letting students take the lead on their posts, with prompts from me every once in a while, but... I don't know if that vagueness would fly if I must get this idea approved of.  Here is another site with a few other ideas.

I also really like the way this article lays out the first few days and talks about the responsibilities of the students.  The questions they must ask themselves translates really nicely to facebook, also...which is important to me. I've seen a few of their accounts, and it concerns me.  I, in my trolling, also stumbled upon a site where there is a brief post on the analogy of the internet being like the mall - very smart.

Here is an excellent resource, entitled "What You Wanted to KNOW About Student Blogging."   It is amazing and covers topics like should you assess posts, and if so how?  Or how to increase your target audience.  I think ideally, I'd like my students to have a blog that others outside of the class can see and post on, but I don't know the realism of that, and again...that would require a looser hand on what they post, I think.  No one would want to read reading-related posts.

Free internet safety pledge.  Very smart idea.

Ah, I may have just found it! The perfect idea for posts!  In 14 Steps to Meaningful Student Blogging, Mrs. Ripp (who is quickly becoming my blogging goddess) links to her blog where she posts blogging challenges.  GENIUS.  Many of her posts allow students a way to respond to their educational environment honestly, so that she can get to know what they think and how they feel about numerous topics.  Some examples are testing, rules, her as a teacher, etc.  In general, I think this site is amazing.  It is where I am getting most of my ideas from.  Mrs. Ripp, you are an inspiration!!

Anyway, that's it for now.  I'm glad I did the research... I am now armed with more solid ideas to present when teachers report back to work tomorrow!

Ahhh, I can't believe the time has finally come!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blogging in the Reading Classroom?

This post is a call for help and suggestions!  Some time ago, I stumbled upon a post someone had where they talked about and using it in the classroom.  Below, you can watch a video I found which very nicely explains how it works and what the security features are.

For one, I cannot seem to find that pin, so if anyone remembers seeing a post like that - or if it's yours, even! - and could point me in that direction, I'd really appreciate it.

With the school year just around the corner, I finally decided to forward it on to my school's technology teacher with a short blurb on the security of the site...since that's a huge deal and all, I figured THAT had to be my sell.  I figured I would also have to draft a parent letter, because, well, let's be or not, the idea of your child posting on the internet is still ... scary, I think.

Her reply surprised me.  Apparently, my county frowns on blogging in the classroom.  Hmm!!  This makes my idea much more difficult to implement, and also critical that I solidify exactly WHAT I want to do with blogs.  She's willing to go to bat for me, but it means I need to know precisely what my plan is.  Which is where my "for two" comes in.  So...

For two, I'd really appreciate any suggestions on how to implement the blogs in my classroom.  Assuming I get permission.  I was thinking of sticking to a twice-a-week schedule.  It would be a part of my students' rotations twice a week.

I think in the blog, they had mentioned starting off by having the students comment on the teacher's welcome post and introduce themselves.  What they like to read, their reading history, etc.  It's a good way to get them to started into the blogging world.  In googling, I then also found where some people use the comments as a way to link Reading Comprehension Strategies.  For example, you could comment on a classmate's post by making a connection.  "This reminds me of the time..."

So... I think comment-wise, I'm good.  It's just, if they're going to possibly be making connections to a post of their peers... then what guidelines should I implement for their posts?  What exactly should be their purpose for posting to their blogs?  What could their entries be about?

Please help!!!  Any suggestions are widely appreciated.  I'd like to nail this idea down by the time we report back to work on Monday so I can chat with her about how to go about doing this.

In return, I promise I will dedicate an entry to blogging in the Reading classroom without the question mark (again, should permission be granted).  A sort of view into my classroom and how it works, how I use it, how the students are responding to it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Two Infamous Linky Firsts! - Currently & Made It (Crate Seats Walk-Through Edition)

I am extremely excited (not to mention extremely late) to finally hook up with two of the most fun linky parties I've encountered!

First, the August currently!  I am finally linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade. This is making it harder and harder to resist the mustache craze! Between that and the cute owls... I have no idea why I fight it!  Please excuse the length of my answers. I happen to be a rambler.  Hopefully this is something you get used to. Been this way all my life, unfortunately.

1. RULE OF 3... if you link up I ask that you go and look at the 2 in front of your link and the one after you AND comment... this SPREADS the LOVE for sure!!! and it was a HUGE success last time :)

2. on the B2S must haves... I am completely OK with you promoting one of your store items HERE... BUT if you promote one of yours I am asking that you also promote someone else too... so if you think you have an item that someone JUST has to have for B2S go ahead and PLUG IT but please PLUG from another store too...

Next up!  My first-ever MADE IT MONDAY!

On Sunday, I met up with a good friend from college with the mostly-sole purpose of creating our very own crate seats! We added lunch, a movie, dinner, some Olympics closing ceremony watching, and other randoms to our to-do list... basically made a day of it! It was great fun! :)  Anyway, the end result of the day:

Click on through if you'd like some instructions!  Though for the record, this ended up costing more than I expected! I was surprised.  So in the cut, you'll also see prices.  That way you can be well-informed. :)  But good gracious, all the cashiers & workers who helped us were greatly confused and simultaneously amused by our goal.  A precious few were concerned about the safety of our idea, too!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Awards

To open up this post, I want to share part of the sweetest message one of my babies from last year sent me.  It started my morning off right!   She said she had the best year ever with me and wanted to thank me for that. <3 It really warmed my heart.  It's the one thing I've always, always wanted a student to do.  I didn't, in my wildest dreams, think it would happen already.  I love that group so much. :]  That message has soothed my impending nerves for the new year.  And reaffirms for me that I am doing something right!

Again, thank you SO MUCH to all the wonderful bloggers who nominated me for these awards! I am so, so honored. :)  I don't know many bloggers, so they are a challenge accepted to integrate the new ones like you have for me! :)

First up!

The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give seven random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

So a huge, huge thank you to Ms. Feuerstack at Fun & Learning in First & Wendy at Teacher's Toolkit

And of course my 7 random facts!
  1. I have been working at the same theatre camp for the last 6 summers.  Every summer has been a blast, and I hope to have the strength to keep on doing it for some time more!  I'm afraid I'll be running out of steam, soon.
  2. I used to try and teach my uncle's cat to speak English by setting up a board with the alphabet. Sadly, my efforts were for naught.
  3. All of my pets have been named after Disney characters.  Best life decision I ever made when I started that trend as a 5 year old.
  4. I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with an app called Robinson. It's awful.
  5. I am also getting heavily into nail art!  Allow me to show off with some pictures below. :) (And kindly ignore the tie-dye stains around my nails in the first picture!)

  6. Multiples of 5 are my favorites. Otherwise, I hate odd numbers - especially prime ones. So this whole 7 business is making me cringe a little bit.
  7. I love to take pictures because I love memories.  It's something that started, I suppose, when someone gave me a diary when I was 7.  Since then, I have been chronicling my life via journal entries...and then evolved to pictures.  One of my newest favorite quotes depicts this perfectly:
Sometimes, you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.

 Let's see how far I can get on the bloggers....Sorry for any repeats, guys! I'm going to troll the Newbie Blog Hop for this. :)  And bear with me... I will slowly but surely be editing this to add more to this meager initial offering.
  1. Enchanted with Technology
  2. Clever Little Birds
  3. Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners
  4. Fluttering in First
  5. Piles of Pencils
  6. Mrs. H's Resource Room 


1. Follow the person who gave the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave the award.
3. Pass this on to 15 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award!

Thank you to Ashley at Inspire, Dream, & Create, Vicky at Keep Calm & Imagine & Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper!

As for the bloggers list - same disclaimer as before.
  1. Clever Little Birds
  2. Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners
  3. Fluttering in First
  4. Piles of Pencils
  5. Mrs. H's Resource Room   


1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2. Post the award to your blog.
 3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.

Thank you now to Mrs. T at Teaching Mrs. T! :)

  1. Enchanted with Technology
  2. Clever Little Birds
  3. Mrs. Payton's Precious Kindergarteners
  4. Piles of Pencils
  5. Mrs. H's Resource Room 

Hopefully that covers all the people that nominated me! I got overwhelmed with the comments and just needed a brief pause moment.  I have been living in virtual hermit-dom since camp ended last Friday.  I've only gone out for mail and a quick visit to the gym (a fact that would have many of my friends keel over from shock).  So I've spent the last few days lounging and watching copious amounts of television. It's been amazing!

Okay, okay, I've also been looking up new car-to-be potentials.  And trying to figure out what to do with my life - i.e., what to major in.  I asked some friends and family for advice... so far hasn't helped too much.  I think my problem is that I really just have zero idea where to go from here.  I love being in the classroom, so those of my friends who are already burned out and advise me to look into majors that could get me OUT of the classroom one day just aren't resonating with me. I suppose it's a smart's possible one day I'll wake up and be tired of the daily grind.  There was one helpful suggestion that I'd never really thought about - ESOL.  It's something I could possibly be interested in and if I were ever in that position, would get me out of the classroom.

Otherwise, I've been contemplating math - it's a field I thought about before I got a job and before I was told by my county's HR that the idea of finding a job as a middle school math teacher was lol-worthy.  I also love technology... I think that could be a fun job.  And my last real thought was reading to strengthen my reading skills & open for me the possibility of becoming a reading specialist.

And...with that, I'm out and off to dinner! I will notify my nominations soon! Enjoy the rest of your week. I'll probably be posting soon with an update on my math facts card games! :)