Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thoughts on Thursday: Resolutions!

Yes, I'm alive, although it doesn't seem like it! It has been awhile since I've been on here, and there have been many life and school reasons for it. We all know how that is.

Today I'm joining Pelicans and Pipsqueaks and Tech and Teachability for Thoughts on Thursday. This month is all about resolutions.  I try to keep my resolutions reasonable so I don't fail right off the bat, so here goes.

1. Be more purposeful in planning. This year, I moved to third grade after several years in kinder. It has taken me awhile (as in still learning) to learn what my third graders most need, but now I am much more comfortable with planning with a purpose in mind. We go back on January 9th, and I am going in with a much clearer game plan with regards to planning. I also ordered this beauty ⇓ from Berteau and Co., and can't wait to start using it.

2. Spend more time on my TPT store. I've neglected my poor baby. I really enjoy creating, so I would love to dedicate more time to making my resources. I spent a lot of time over break creating, so I am excited to make this a priority in 2017.

3. Have fun. I've spent too much time being stressed. Even my kids notice. That kills me. I am determined to find a way to bring more joy into our room to benefit everyone. I am determined to do more in my life that brings me joy. I know I can't control everything, and stress happens, but I want to try to have less of it hanging around.

What are your resolutions?

Friday, August 19, 2016

No More Stubby Pencils!

While most of you are back in school, teaching the little ones how to function, I'm wandering my house bored and itching to get back in the classroom.

When going through my ever-growing back to school pile, I remembered a nifty little device I got about a month ago from Classroom Friendly Supplies, and decided to spend time sharpening some of the awesome new pencils I got from Michaels.

A pencil sharpener shouldn't be exciting right!?!? But after years of crappy  not the best quality sharpeners that will only sharpen certain pencils, I am thrilled to have a sharpener that will sharpen whatever you put in it.

There is a bit of a learning curve to  using the sharpener, but after you figure it out, it. is. awesome!

First, hold the black knobs and pull out the face. While holding the knobs, put in the pencil as far as it goes.

Then, hold the top as you crank clockwise. I plan to mount the sharpener in my classroom, although holding it firmly works well.

Crank until you feel the pressure release. Push the black knobs together and remove the pencil. Be amazed at the sharpest point ever. Repeat with every pencil you own.

 This pretty purple little guy has quickly become one of my favorite teacher tools. What are your classroom must-haves?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Twitter Tips & Tricks

Twitter is by far my favorite tool to use in the classroom. I do use it as brand promotion, but today  I am focusing on how I use it at school with my students.

I came pretty late to the Twitter thing, and was a bit resistant to it at first. I thought it would be just another thing to add to my social media list, but I’ve really come to love it as a teaching tool. I use it at least twice a week (shooting for daily next year) to tweet pictures and updates about what is happening in my classroom. Many other teachers in my school do this as well. We use a common hashtag so we can easily see each others’ tweets.

Here are three reasons why I love using Twitter in the classroom.


By using Twitter, I am able to give people a glimpse of what is going on inside our classroom. Parents can’t be there every day, but they can see pictures of projects we are working on or what we did on our field trip. Parents love seeing what is happening in our class.

I am also able to easily connect with the community by sending a tweet. When we are curious about books, we can compose a tweet together and send it to the local librarian. When studying weather, we were able to tweet with a local meteorologist, and my students were over. The. moon. Mo Willems favorited a tweet about The Pigeon. It doesn’t get better than that.


There are still many misconceptions of what kindergarten actually does all day, so I like to show off the hard word we are doing (and succeeding in). Using the Twitter app on my phone or iPad, I can take a quick picture of the data collection and representation we are doing, the STEM challenges students come up with on their own, or proud kids who’ve met a big goal. I want to knock out the stereotype that kindergarten is coloring and naps.

And it’s not just me doing the showing off. Sometimes, I pose a question and have my students formulate their answers. I pull up Twitter on our projector and we discuss what we want to share with the world. In order for me to share their thoughts, they have to answer in a complete sentence and justify why. Since they all want their tweets featured, they work extra hard to make sure they are answering properly.


In college, one thing that always stuck out to me was the idea that teaching is a political act. I know many teachers shy away from anything political as not to alienate anyone (or lose jobs over their views), but I do believe going to school day in and day out is very political and speaks to the values teachers hold. Although, yes, it could get me in trouble, I use Twitter to express ideologies that are important to me.

I live in/ teach in Chicago, Illinois, which is beautiful but has had many issues regarding education lately. In response to the frustrations and fears I am feeling about that, I have taken to Twitter to show exactly what kind of classroom I have.  #notaprison took off in response to a political official comparing our schools to prisons. I used this hashtag to show some of the fun and excitement for learning that goes on in our classroom. We used #20for20 to show what our schools would look like if we keep receiving less than adequate funding. Because of these politically charged hashtags, I connected with several new people and was able to get all the feels hearing about the great things other schools are doing despite challenges.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tell-All Tuesday 2.0

Hey all!

I'm joining Diana from My Day in K and Jayme from Teach Talk Inspire again this year for Tell All Tuesday! I had so much fun getting to know everyone last year through this linky, I can't wait for this year.

We are starting off with a "two truths and a lie" guessing game. I stumped a lot of people with the last one, let's see about this time!

1. I have visited 4 countries.
2. I am a proficient ceramicist.
3.I make my own hair accessories.

Hmmm, which one is the untruth? I'll reveal it soon! Can't wait to guess yours!


This was fun! Here's the big reveal!

1. LIE! I've actually never left the US (but I desperately want to!)
2. Truth! It's been awhile, but I am quite good
3. Truth! I make headbands and bows (because I'm practically 7)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Book Study: You Can't Teach a Class You Can't Manage

We've all had those days. Days where there is no positivity left in your body when the day ends. You can barely hold in the tears. You tell your team this is your last day, yet they humor you because they know you'll be back tomorrow, dedicated to make the day a better one.

Yeah, those days. I discovered this book, You Can't Teach a Class You Can't Manage by Donna Whyte on one of those days. My partner handed me this book and said it was her saving grace on one of these days. And it became mine.

Over summer, I tend to read all the professional development books I can. Guided reading, math stations, reading strategies are all on the list...but I tend to leave out management books. Why? That's the part of my job that is hardest, shouldn't I be looking more into that?

So, for everyone who has had "one of those days," here are some big takeaways from the first third of Donna Whyte's book that {hopefully} you can use and make you consider your management before heading back to school. I'm going to talk about this book in three parts, and then about how it influenced my own plan for next year.

We spend so much time refining instruction- why not our discipline?
This really stuck out to me. I spend SO MUCH TIME assessing, differentiating, reflecting, reteaching when it comes to content. I do reflect and differentiate my management, but not nearly as much thought goes into it as instruction. I tend to tell myself "next year I'll try xyz." Why not now? I would NEVER keep teaching something that didn't work- why do I allow it when it comes to discipline?

Whyte suggests evaluating your standards for discipline and curriculum for teaching them. I tend to "forget" about teaching discipline after the fist few months of school, and I am going to do a better job of seeing discipline as a way to teach and refine life lessons rather than a punishment. I also need to look at what is working and what isn't, and make a plan to change it. 

Controlling kids is not the goal, teaching self-control is. 
I know on "those days" I've thought about not being able to control kid X. But... is that what we should focus on? No. I sure know that I don't want someone to control me. Our focus needs to be in guiding students (especially our littlest ones) to learning skills that lead to self-control. 

What kind of behavior, attitude and work do we want from our kids? Do I want them to blindly listen and go through motions to get on gold or go in the treasure box? No. Do I want them to yearn to be kind people, with a great work ethic? Yes. This has to be the goal, not control. I plan to build time to give my students the supports to fail and eventually succeed, and let them know that I see them trying and that success feels good. 

The first part of the book is setting up her cornerstones, and  I can't wait to get more into those. From reading her book, Donna Whyte has posed many questions and helped me focus lots of time towards figuring out what works and what doesn't, and how I will refine my discipline "curriculum" next year. 

What books have you read on management that are must- reads? I'd love to hear about them! 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer #Shelfie List

Summertimmmmme, the livin’s easy. I am loving not having to set an alarm and being able to wear yoga pants whenever I want.

And I've had time to READ! Oh, is it glorious. My only time to read during the school year is on the bus, and lately I haven't been able to even focus to do that. I’m finally catching up. Here is what I’m reading: 


Image result for Asoiaf Book Covers

Most people know this as the “Game of Thrones” book series, and they are hands down some of the best books I’ve ever read. I loved them the first time, and I’m about 30% done rereading the series. They are so much better on the second read!

Image result for dreamsongs

Speaking of GRRM, I got two of his short story anthologies for Christmas. Yeah, I haven't touched them yet. I’m hoping to finish those up, too. 

Image result for watchmen graphic

I loved the movie, and now hubby suggested I read the graphic novel, too.

Again, hubby is making me much nerdier, so I picked up some comics at the shop today. Excellent for a short read!


A bunch of these are missing from my “shelfie” because they are either on hold at the library or on my kindle, but I’ll go through em anyway.

Image result for donna whyte

Donna Whyte is amazing. After a particularly hard day, my partner told me to read this book. I read it in a night, and it helped so much with the way I speak to my class. I’m going to go more in-depth with this book on here this summer.

Image result for  Reading in the Wild The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits

I loved The Book Whisperer, so I know this one will be great!

Image result for other people's children delpit

Teaching at a school where almost none of my kids look like me, I feel it is VERY important to learn as much as I can about teaching kids whose lives are different than mine. I love Lisa Delpit’s work, and she makes me think about my role as a teacher and how I can best respect the culture my kids bring to the classroom.

Image result for the reading strategies book

I’ve only heard good things, I’m looking forward to this one.

What are you reading this summer? I love new recommendations!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Year of the Goal

This is the year of the goal.

I've decided that this year (I measure everything in school years, pretty much already seeing this as the 16-17 year) I am going to be vigilant about tracking, following up with, and meeting my personal and professional goals. So my "summer bucket list" isn't the most exciting, but rather a list of goals that I am going to work towards accomplishing this summer.

Get on a gym routine
Fitness, Dumbbells, Training, Fitness Studio, Studio
Because of health reasons, my gym going has been...spotty for the last 2 years. I used to go religiously, but yeah, life got in the way.  Now that I'm back on track and off horrible weight-gain inducing steroids, I need to turn this into a habit. After a good workout I feel more energetic, happier, and relaxed. I need to remember these feelings when I'm reluctant to go so I actually go and feel these great things.

Frustrated, Sad, Stress, Depressed Man, Stressed Man
I am a wound-up person. I stress out easily and have trouble turning  my brain off. My goal is to make time every evening to unwind- calm music, a good book, and some tea. I'll be a better, calmer person and teacher for this.

 Eat Better
Carrot, Kale, Walnuts, Tomatoes, Vegetable, Food
Again, because of reasons, my diet has suffered. I am stopping the stress eating and going to eat a healthier diet. My goal is less processed food and sugars, more fresh food. I also want to get on a schedule where I actually eat. This is huge during the school year- I skip lunch and get real cranky then binge junk when I get home. That is going to stop.

Go out more
Chicago, Skyline, Skyscraper, Buildings, Park, Illinois

I am a homebody, but I would like to get outside and be more social. I tend to lock myself up with my computer and netflix and let life pass me by. I am going to take time to walk in my beautiful city every day, and say "yes" to more invitations. I often struggle in social situations, and I want to get past that.

So those are my summer goals. Once it's a habit, it will be much easier to maintain when school picks up again. It will take a  lot of work, but I'm ready!