Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Color Run, Focus, and Katie Wood Ray

So I had a pretty good weekend, and next week is shaping up to look pretty good too!  My husband and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary at Benihana's.  It was a new experience for him, and we definitely enjoyed the corniness of the cooking tricks they do!  I wish I could take credit for this picture, but it captures the excitement!

The Color Run
Saturday morning I woke up earlier than I have all summer, but I was pumped to do it!  Six other girls and I did The Color Run!  Some of you may have heard of it, but it's a fun 5K where you wear white and you get sprayed with different colors at each kilometer.  I said this was a FUN run...definitely not a competitive run.  Actually, the 7 of us got crazy looks for actually running the course.  Check out our before and after pictures.  It was awesome, and the race is for ANY type of exerciser.  There were families with kids, strollers, joggers, and runners, but nobody trying to get a PR.  It's definitely something you should look into around your home town! Click the link below to see if it gets close to you.  The more fun you have with your outfits and group, the better it will be!  We already know our outfit improvements for next year's race!

Here we are before we started!  We were also celebrating Lindsey's (girl on the right) birthday!
Our crazy hands after the race!  My legs were actually worse than this!

The motley crew afterward!  We had a blast, and figured out why it's the called "The Happiest 5K on the Planet!"

Earlier in the summer I posted about my Summer To-Do List.  In it was to read the book Focus by Mike Schmoker.  Well, I finished the book in June, and I really enjoyed it!  It gives a deep analysis of standards, and how not all standards warrant the same amount of time to master.  Using PLCs to discuss as a grade level which standards you feel are most important will help the teachers, but most importantly, the students, learn concepts and content that is crucial to their development.  Enough rambling since you can read it yourself, but I loved the book.  The best part though, is I get to actually hear Schmoker this week!!  My new administrative team is heading to a 3-day Literacy conference with some big Huge HUMUNGO people that I'm excited about!

Katie Wood Ray
Also at this conference will be one of my writing heros Katie Wood Ray!  I have read her books, but have never actually seen her in action.  I can't wait to go back to school with her writing enthusiasm.  In case you don't know her work, these are probably her most well known books.  Come back and see what I have to share after listening to her brilliance!

Okay, well I really, really, really, really, really, need to go pack for our trip!  Oh, and have I told you that I hate the term "business casual".  That can mean so many things for so many people!  I'll pack so that I'm better safe than sorry, but how can you be business and casual all in one?!

Have a great week, and GO USA!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Organizing for Math Workshop and App Happy Linky

Math Workshop Organizing
Late last Spring, my principal had loaned me a couple of books to read about Math Workshop.  I was really excited to begin implementing a workshop-style approach to math, especially since our new curriculum wasn't very good was AWFUL!!  This would give me an opportunity to reach all of my students in authentic and meaningful ways in math.  Upon reading these two books, I realized that the first step was getting things organized so that I would know what resources I had for each concept, and have a place where my students would be able to get their materials.  

I love Debbie Diller, so I started reading the Math Work Stations first, and then I headed into the Guided Math book.  They were both helpful, and although they present it a bit differently, it gave me an idea for how I could make it work for my students in the best way possible.

I wouldn't say my classroom is every extremely neat and organized, but I knew where things were, the students could access things easily, and it appeared clean on the outside...until you opened a cabinet.  :) Okay, so maybe I thought I knew where things were.  I spent a day just cleaning out my math materials.  Although I came across  other things that needed some work, the books tell you to just focus on math, and get it done!  So I started by pulling EVERYTHING out that was math related.  I pulled my math picture books, manipulatives, tubs, etc.  Oh, and don't spend money buying new tubs, you'll be amazed how many you have already that aren't really being utilized effectively.  
The mess on the floor, table, cabinets before I started sorting. 

Wow!  My tall cabinet before I pulled everything out, and then after.  Notice the loose legos, indoor recess games just thrown in, scrap paper is everywhere, and it's a wreck.  When you see all the empty storage space, your mind will start to go crazy with ideas and excitement! :)

My next step was to sort by content, not by chapter or lesson, or personal supplies vs. school curriculum supplies.  I started with categories for geometry, fractions, place value, geometry, measurement, etc. and then found some subgroups of smaller concepts, or things I can use for multiple concepts.  I made sure to label these well.  I also created a bin for my picture books related to math, so that I could pull those into work stations and make it an option if they finish their task early.  

Then, I used the bins I already had, labeled them, and neatly put them away in my cabinets.  Can I tell you, it was like that feeling when all of the laundry is done!  A jump around, do a little dance, a silent squeal, and an "Oh my!  Look at how organized I am type of deal!"  Now, I know many of you have color coordinated bins, etc. but for me this was a step in the right direction, and I just really didn't want to spend money on something I already had.  Maybe some cute labels with coordinating paper would do the trick for me.  

 I wish I had a before picture of would have said, "Oh my word!"
But now, it's all organized where everything has a place, and I can easily see what I have.  

As many of you know, I have changed roles, so I won't actually get to implement Math Workshop, but I couldn't help but share the initial steps in getting ready for them.   After putting some music on, getting a large Dr. Pepper, and closing my door, I really had fun doing this.  I hope you all can find some time for an "Oh my!" moment after it's all done!

Now onto App Happy with Hope King at 2nd Grade Shenanigans!  
So I have a couple of Apps that make me happy!  

The first one, seems obvious, but it's an App with the Common Core Standards listed.  The app is called: Common Core Standards.  Creative, huh?  I usually print these off, and put them in my teacher binder, but if I forget to bring it home or to a team meeting, I know I'll always have it on my phone.  It's so easy to use...and it's free!

 The second app is probably my most recent favorite, but it's called Apps Gone Free.  Each day, this posts apps that the publishers have made free for the day.  Sometimes there won't be any apps that you want, and other days you'll think you hit the jackpot.  Most apps that are listed are usually $0.99, but sometimes there will be one that was originally $4.99.  I have downloaded some great educational apps from here, and some other fun games for myself!  Happy Free Shopping!

Link up with Hope and her App Happy Linky Party to join in on the fun!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm a TBA Blogger!

Okay, so maybe I'm just a Teacher Feature, not a full time blogger for TBA, but nonetheless, I am super excited to be their feature today!  My focus for the post is on Student Led Conferences.   Come check out my post on TBA by clicking on the image below!

It's perfect timing too because my Student Led Conference Data Binder on TpT was just updated with new things!  In an earlier post, I wrote about my To Do List for this summer, and now I get to cross this one off!  Yay for anal retentive lists, crossing things off, and redoing this unit!  It now includes Science and Social Studies, generic templates for you to fill in for you specific data targets, as well as trimester and quarterly graphs for those of you on different grading periods!  WooWoo!!

I have been getting several emails from people wanting specific changes, and am working on those!  If anyone else needs anything school specific, let me know!!  It may not be perfect, but it'll be functional.  Enjoy the rest of your Sunday without lesson planning or grading.  There won't be many of these left before we get into crazy school mode again!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

School Retreat and Determining a Classroom Theme

Good afternoon!  Well I had my first "official" item of business with my new staff today, and I'd say it was a success!  They always have a staff "retreat" in the summer where they address their school improvement goals and our route to achieving them.  It was so nice to see everyone, continue to learn names, and see how amazing the teachers are!  I can't wait to learn from them as my work with them continues.

For the last week, I've been at a 5 day EL conference.  Yes, I said 5 days!  I was by myself, so I had a lot of the think time.  Anyway, the presenter talked about some great things, and I'm going to share some of those as time goes on.  The one I want to start with today made me think about my classroom themes.  Obviously, with EL students, we want to make sure we are culturally responsive and think about the things we do and say that reflect these cultures.

The presenter talked about an ENL teacher that had a Colts theme.  She said it was beautiful!  Blue and white, coordinating name tags on desks, a behavior plan that was centered around it, stationary for newsletters, word wall letters that reflected a football theme, etc.  Everything we dream of when thinking about creating an environment that is cohesive and "matchy matchy".  However, all of her students are spanish speaking students.  What sport would they really relate to? Football? Or futbol?

So I thought back about my own themes.  Who created them?  I did.  Who thought of the colors?  I did.  Who decorated everything?  I did.
Who is the room for? The students.

It's a lot easier for me to think about this since I'm not setting up a room this year, but if I were, I might have to rethink some things.  I had started creating a Pinterest board on a Pirate theme, had purchased some clearance items in April, and had already designed my postcard to introduce students to the room. However, what type of environment would my students really relate to?  What would they want?  As I rethink this, I might have a fairly dull and boring room to begin with and let the students do the creation of the theme.  Yes, I would want to assist and make things neat, but shouldn't they own the room? 

Food for thought:  As you all are setting up your rooms in the coming weeks are you going to go with football or futbol?  Are you going to let your students take ownership?  Is your theme culturally responsive?  

That's all for now!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Running Sucks...especially in a drought!

So my title might not be the most lady-like, but it's the truth.  Running Sucks...sometimes!  Here in Indiana we are having a real drought this summer.  We are currently on watering restrictions or bans depending on where you live, and some people who live on water (I wish I could say that was me, but who am I kidding!) can't even get their boats out because they are stuck in the mud!

However, the drought I'm talking about is my figurative running drought.  I think all runners go through this yo-yo effect where we are crazy about running for a particular race or reason, and then we fall into a drought.  After my marathon, I continued to stay in shape a bit until Mayish.  This is when all of my other friends ran the Mini Marathon, and I had continued my runs with them for a while.  Since then, I have been in a drought.  An occasional 2-3miler, but nothing to be proud of in regards to time or effort.

My friend, Ali, was home for the weekend from Chicago and asked me to join her for a Saturday run.  Little did I know she was training for the Chicago half, and needed to run 7 miles.  Remember, I've been in a drought.  Since May I've run a handful of times and only 2-3 miles.  My running partner was going 7, never mind her boyfriend who was running 14 miles!!!!

So, we were a mile in and I realized I wasn't going to be able to keep up...demoralizing.  The picture above shows Ali and me after running a marathon!  That's 26.2 miles together!  Yes, I couldn't even run a mile at her pace.  When you do the math further, it's more than demoralizing, just down right EMBARRASSING!  

After attempting to continue the conversation for a few more minutes, I had a moment of self awareness.  Mary Beth, if you continue to run with Ali, at her pace, you will a.) not be able to walk tomorrow  b.) not be able to breath in about 10 minutes  c.) not be able to make it HOME to catch your breath and rest your legs!  After this stream of consciousness, I said goodbye to Ali, ran a little bit more and then turned around.  My pace slowed wayyyyy down.  Oh, you really want to know how much it slowed down?  Okay, well my first mile was 7 minutes and 56 seconds.  My third mile was 9 minutes 34 seconds.  Pathetic.  But I did run.  I did more than I had done.  I ran 3.41 miles.  I got started again. 

Moral of my running drought:  There will be times when running sucks and you feel , but there are ALWAYS times to get back in the game.  

Have you been in a drought lately with something?  

My new running buddy was spayed today and is a bit under the weather, but I'll be back later in the week to show how we are rebounding from our droughts!

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Apologies, My Struggles, My Thanks, and My July Currently

Okay.  I know.  I hear you.  It's been a LOOOOOONNNNGGG time!  I even got to the point a week ago that I didn't even want to pull up my blog because I was so embarrassed that I hadn't posted in so long!  Anyway, I've been doing a lot of thinking this summer.  Which I love, because during the school year you just think about what you have to do tomorrow or really, in 10 minutes.

I shared with you all a while back that I had interviewed for and accepted a new position that I was way excited about!  What I didn't share was that it was for an Assistant Principal position!  After accepting the position, I began thinking about what direction I should take the blog.  Luckily, I am only a half time AP, so I'll still get to do push-in support and help kiddos the other half (part of what I <3ed about the position!).  However, I won't be doing full units, fun lessons, or enrichment activities to share with you.  Heck, I'm not even figuring out what them I want to do for my classroom next year!  I don't have one!  Yes, I've cried about this.  When my room was empty (which I posted before) I walked out, stared at the name on my door, and cried.  I knew I wouldn't have my very own classroom again.

Then I got to see my office, move in to my new school, and I am really excited!  Yes, I said office.  I mean most teachers love school supplies, organizational things, binders, dividers, hanging files, etc.  I now get to live in my own world of it, where I don't have to reorganize and clean up after 25 little kiddos each day!  The only person I can blame for a messy office though, is me!  Whoops!  I didn't think that through.

Okay, so about my struggles.  Obviously there will be things about my new position that I won't be able to share due to confidentiality and such, but I wasn't sure what direction to take the blog.  Without my classroom, creating my own lessons, etc. I didn't want to leave you all out to dry with nothing to write about.  I decided I'm just going to go with it though.  I'm going to share my trials and tribulations in a new building, with a new staff, becoming an administrator, and everything in between!  If you all have anything you want me to specifically write about or have always wondered about from your Administrative team, let me know!

Yes, I have crossed over to the OtHeR SiDe but I also get to do some teaching, so it's the best of both worlds!

On to My Thanks!  During my blogging hiatus I have received countless blogging awards from various bloggers and I am every so grateful.  When you take a break there is guilt involved.  When you haven't blogged in a while, but you are still getting awards there is A LOT, and I MEAN A LOT, of guilt involved.  Thank you to the following bloggers for their awards! You guys are awesome and have Lovely, Versatile blogs of your own!

Versatile Blogger Award: Steph at The Quirky Apple
Versatile Blogger Award and One Lovely Blog Award: Jess at From Blood to Books
Versatile Blogger Award: Becky at Teaching, Learning, Loving
One Lovely Blog Award: Laura at TIPS: Teach, Inspire, and Prepare Students
One Lovely Blog Award: Susannah a Susie's Seconds

One of my favorite parts of each month, is sharing Farley's Currently.  I'm a bit behind this month, but here she is.  So pretty.  So vibrant.  So America!

Click on my Currently to Link up with Farley.  Her blog posts are always good for a pick-me-up, a chuckle, and a reminder that not everyone is perfect and we all have a stream of consciousness that makes us sound a bit nutty! 

On the last one, I really did struggle pinning down one book that I go to all of the time.  The books I most enjoy reading are ones with practical applications and easy to apply concepts to the classroom.  The books I am most reflective with and are most rewarding are the ones that make me question my practices, think about deeper understandings with my students, and  drive me to talk to my fellow colleagues about different topics.  So, with all of that verbiage, I don't have a favorite!  

Finally, is my Vow, to remember what it's like to be a teacher 24-7, to keep student needs at the forefront of all of my decisions, and to blog about these experiences along the way!