Monday, January 28, 2013

100th Day=100 pieces of mail! and Super Bowl!

Happy Monday!!  It's January (almost Feb.) and it's 50 degrees in Indy!  I'm also excited to share about my friends' 100th Day Celebration in their classroom...and it's a meaningful activity on this grand day!

Two Kindergarten teacher-friends (Callie and Allison) of mine are now at a new building, but I had to share their continued awesomeness.  To celebrate their 100th day they decided to collect 100 pieces of mail.  A couple of weeks before the big day, they Facebooked, tweeted, and communicated their goal of receiving 100 pieces of mail.  Each day, as they arrived, they read them to the students, kept tallies of the mail they had received, colored the states of origin, and laughed about the pictures people sent in of their teachers.

What a fun colorful bulletin board filled with love!  Oh, and the pink card with the "m" is mine! :)

As you can see by the pictures they received cards, letters, post cards, pictures and small gifts.  A close family friend of one teacher even sent $100-$1 for each day they had been in school!  The class decided to celebrate by buying next books for their classroom and having a pizza party to celebrate their accomplishments!   

After the 100th day, they made the letters available to their students to read and use throughout the day.  One class made this really cute Thank You that the teachers could post on Facebook to thank everyone who helped them.  With the hidden faces, I could use it too!! :)

Next year, they are going to request post cards, create a giant map, and map them as they receive them.  You know teachers...they're always trying to find new and better ways!  Thanks Callie and Allison for sending me pics of such a great activity to celebrate 100th Day!

It's Super Bowl Week!

Find great activities for the big week including math games, graphing activities, mapping, comparing the two teams, reading comprehension, and more!  Check it out, have some fun, and make the planning, morning work, and centers easy to prep this week!

Gotta run...entering data tonight (and watching The Bachelor)! Woohoo!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Fist to Five, Friday Freebie, and CCSS Blues Update

Fist to Five
I came across a pin on Pinterest talking about the First to Five method for students and their understanding of vocabulary words.  With part of my job in the ELL realm, I fell in love quickly...and so did my kids!  They get really excited when I say, "Fist to five.  Show me what you know about the word: ____."  Students then show on one hand their understanding of various vocabulary words or skills.  It's a quick, effective check for understanding and helps guide your instruction.  Due to my Pinterest inspiration, I cannot take credit for the idea, but I wanted a visual for my students, so I will share this!

Anyway, the premise is that a 0 (or showing your hand with a closed fist) means you've never heard of the word, a 1 is that you've heard of the word, but don't know anything about it, and it continues on to 5, which means you know the word, can explain it to someone, and could use it in context correctly when writing.

Freebie Friday
I'm also linking up with TBA's Freebie Friday to post my Fist to Five posters!  I rarely blog on Fridays, but I figured why not today!?  Come find many other GREAT freebies for your classroom!

Common Core Blues Update
Many of you read my post from Tuesday about my political frustrations with our state wanting to pull out of the CCSS after we had already adopted them in 2010.  They were supposed to vote on Wednesday, but it has postponed a couple of weeks!  I'm hoping this gives people more time to contact their representatives and slow the train rather than build momentum, but we will see!

Gotta run....have a FaNtAsTiC FrIdAy!!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Common Core Blues

Okay, well it's 10:25, and I should be in bed watching Parenthood, but I just can't get out of the Common Core Blues!  As many of you know, I live in the great state of Indiana.  Born and raised a Hoosier, I have a lot of pride in my state, but I'm confessing I am very nervous for what lies ahead.  I am not typically a political analyst, nor do I ever talk politics with friends or family, but sometimes things just get you where it hurts.

And this one hurts.  I'm not sure exactly why it does, but let me explain the situation.  A vast majority of you have adopted the Common Core State Standards and Indiana has been right alongside this whole time.  We have spent time taking apart the standards, analyzing the nouns and verbs to decipher what our kids should know and be able to do, spent many a PD days on what this shift means, yadda yadda yadda.  We've looked through textbooks with a critical eye on how they incorporate the CCSS within their text.  Now we have textbooks based on how well they cover the CCSS.

But wait...we currently have a bill that is going to void any changes that have been made to standards since 2010!  Yep, you heard me!  CCSS would be gone just as we get going!  Our legislators believe that Indiana can develop better standards that align to a better assessment (not PARCC).  Anyway, I just feel like the word "void" makes everyone think that all of our learning and work will be void.  The connotation of this has just bugged me.

So, I wrote my senator...and he wrote me back!  I was excited to exercise my writes, although I didn't love his response.  At least he took the time to give me a detailed reason as to why he was voting to void the change in CCSS.

Okay, I am done.  For today.  The vote is tomorrow.  I may be back tomorrow.  I may be excited.  I may not be.  Can any of you from non-CCSS shed light and hope on this situation?  I know it won't be as bad I have in my head, and the way I present it to my staff sets the tone, but I had to get it all out.

Gotta bed now (well after Parenthood is over).

Monday, January 21, 2013

Super Bowl, Super Cold, Super Delay!

Good evening!  Well today has been great!  Laundry, running, school work, blogging, TpTing, etc.

Super Bowl!
Last year I created a Super Bowl Unit because it was all they hype here in Indy and my kids were obsessed!  Now it will be the Ravens and 49ers with Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh.  How fun will this be.  I have updated the unit to reflect the new teams, added some activities, and did some updates.  Check it out and enjoy a few weeks of football fun!

 Super Cold
Well I can't say that MLK day was filled with outdoor activities and running with the dogs...the windchill right now is 2 degrees and dropping.  Now if you're from Alaska or Minnesota, I know you have no sympathy for me, but it is CoLd!  So off to the gym I went, with my best iTunes workout friend Grace Lazenby.  My husband was doing the stair machine, of which I have done once and swore it off.  It is really hard!  So anyway, I decided on a 30 minute workout which I dialed in through the music on my phone.  I'll fill you in on Grace later in the week.  She doesn't know that she's my best running buddy.  Actually, she doesn't even know that I exist!  Wonder if she'd go along with my inner monologue of people running next to me?  Actually, she probably would be that person next to me.

Super Delay
Did I mention that it is really cold here in Indiana?  Well, it has warranted a 2-hour delay tomorrow!  Woohoo!  So this may not mean that I sleep in, but at least I'll get a couple of hours of work done before the kiddos come in.  :)

The Bachelor is on now...gotta run!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Teacher Evaluations, Internal Motivation, and a Shout Out Linky

Teacher Evaluations Feedback
As I have shifted from a classroom teacher role to an administrative position this year, much of my time is spent in classrooms doing walk throughs and observations.  While doing this I have learned a tremendous amount from teachers I get to watch.  They are amazing at what they do, and I've often thought that everyone should have the opportunity to do this during their career.  It is a great learning experience.  On the flip side, I want to make sure that my teachers are getting the most out of their observations and our conversations that follow.  I thought I'd come to all of you with a question!

What has been the least/most valuable information, format, or feedback you have received from your principal during and after observations? Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email and let me know your thoughts!

Internal Running Motivation
My husband and I headed to the gym today around noon and it was packed!  I had to wait a couple of minutes for a treadmill, but in my crazy mind I thought I'd get some really good motivation from the people next to me.  I was wrong!  There were two older men next to me who were completely content with their walk.  I was proud of them for getting to the gym and exercising!  However, now it was all up to me!  I decided I was going to run 4 miles (farther than I've gone in a long sad!!).  I began my workout, untangled my headphones during my walking warm up, and started reading the closed captioning about Obama returning from Hawaii.  I finished my 4 mile run with internal motivation!  I don't think I believed that I had that in me, but mission accomplished!  I can not promise that I won't be checking out perfect college girl next to me tomorrow, though.

Shout Out Linky

One of the best things I love about blogging are the people I get to meet and learn about through their words and inspiration.  Marie, from The Hands-On Teacher, gave me a shout out through a Linky because of my blog!  Thanks, Marie, you are the best!  Stop by and give her a shout out in return!

The way the linky works is that you give a shout out to two blogs, one that has more followers than you, and one that has less followers.  So here are mine:

3rd Grade Gridiron is written by Dana, and she is awesome!  First, I love a sports theme.  My first year of teaching I had a sports theme, so visiting her blog always makes me think about my beginning.  Dana is a regular blogger and always has great ideas.  She posts freebies, shares ideas, color codes, etc! I also watched her on the Virtual Teaching Expo a while back and she was wonderful!  Dana, thanks for your constant inspiration!

Learning to the Core is my second shout out.  It is a new blog (just started in November, but has almost 50 followers!!) that focuses on Common Core.  Aylin and Amanda, the authors teacher in the same school but share resources from the primary grades.  Both share creative ways to teach common core through different resources.  A lot of them are FREE!  They both offer great technology advice and ideas.  It is a really fun blog to read and you learn a lot!  Go visit them and share the shout out love!

Join in on the linky and give a shout out to the blogs you love the most!

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Energy and Daily Treadmill Motivation

Energy - the whole month of January just talking about energy!  What a great month to do in which sometimes us Indy people seem to lose energy due to cold weather. I was directed to BlogHer, which is a pretty cool chic who has created a blog about blogging, for blogging, and help for blogging. Each month she has a different focus word and then you write about it.  The month of January's focus word is EnErGy!
The question today: what takes up the most energy during your day?  For me?  I think it's worrying.  I worry about my students.  I worry about my teachers.  I worry about families in my school.  I worry about doing my job right.  I worry about supporting my teachers in a way that improves student learning.  I worry about a lot.  For me, this worry zaps me.  I know I should probably be glad that I worry and care about all of this, but sometimes it can be a bit much.  So when I blog about the perfect college girl next to me on the treadmill, running with the dogs, or running to Xmas music, that is why.  Running gives me some me-time, some no-worry, out of the building, stare at the speed of the chic next to me time.  Wahoo!

Daily Treadmill Motivation
 Alright, so after my blog post yesterday, I realized that maybe I'm not so crazy about my thoughts and many of you made me feel, dare I say it....NORMAL for wanting to outdo the girl next to me.  I mean find motivation from the person next to me.  As I climbed the stairs to the treadmills at my gym, I started realizing that I was searching for an innocent, NY resolutioner who would provide me with my daily motivation.  And much to my appreciation, it was packed.  There was only one treadmill open.  Right by the stairs.  Shoot!  Everyone walks by this treadmill!  I was going to do an easy workout, but now everyone is going to see.   Oh no, there is my neighbor.  He knows that I was a college athlete, he'll expect me to run fast.  I know, MB, it was just Div. III, but still college.  Whew!  My saving grace.  I look at the man next to me. . . a slightly shorter man, walking (Yes!  Walking!) in his mid-50s.  My saving grace.  I did not feel the need to compete with this man which was a good relief.   I complete my warm-up, and decide on 3 miles.  I ramp up my speed, turn on Pandora, and proceed to run.

Oh my goodness!  Where do all of these cute girls come from?!  Seriously, do you all have to come at once?  Why am I on the end by the stairs where everyone can see me again?  Oh yea, MB, you have a sick mind and enjoy it when the gym is busy.  What do you think now?  
I realized today, that my fast-paced 3 miles was due to positional motivation.  The position of my treadmill did not allow for me to blend in with the long row of runners.  I was on the end.  The first one everyone saw as they came up.  The last one they saw as they headed out.

Lesson of the day: Positional motivation works too!  Should I have rethought where I placed student desks?  Do any of them experience positional motivation?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shhh...I like running on a treadmill!...and the Currently

Confessions of a competitive-aholic on the treadmill:

Okay, so my husband and I have been trying to work out more regularly (and yes, you can say we joined the New Year's Resolution people, but I'm okay with that).  Many people get annoyed with the mass of people who show up at the gym on January 1 every year.  However, I like LOVE it.  I know...that's kind of a sick, but I really do like all of the people.  See, I'm really competitive when it comes to things like this.  Running is a personal thing, but I get a lot of my motivation from those around me.  The other day this little college chick with her sorority letters, matching shorts, wavy hair perfectly tossed up into a ponytail hopped onto the treadmill next to me.  Here are my thoughts as my time on the treadmill progresses.  I do not recommend this strategy to others, as it does not bring out the best, but thought I'd share!

Me: Yes!  She's going to walk/jog for a couple of miles and I will smoke her!

Perfect college girl: Begins her warm up and does high knees and butt kicks to get ready.

Me: Oh man, she looks like she's going to be serious, but there is no way she can look that cute and actually be a serious runner.

PCG: Begins a slow jog for a minute. (I know this because I was obsessively watching out of the corner of my eye every time she altered the numbers...creepy, I know!)

Me: Why am I worried about what she is doing?  I am trying to run more, and gain my running swag.  Seriously, MB, get your act together.

PCG: Increases her treadmill to the same pace I am running.

Me: Hmm...looks like I need to increase 0.5 mph. Yea, I probably need to push myself anyway, this is good for me. Thank you PCG for running next to me. 

PCG: Moves her feet to the side of the treadmill as it keeps going.

Me: She better not count that distance when she tells her friends how far she went today.  She didn't run that whole time.  MB, get a grip!  Who cares?

PCG: Turns her treadmill to 10 mph (a 6 minute mile) and begins to run for 30 seconds at 10 mph.

Me: Holy cow!  This girl is better than I gave her credit for!  What could she possibly be training for that would require her to do intervals at this speed?  

PCG: Lets the treadmill continue to run as she hops to the side to stretch her quads.

Me: Yep, I bet she's going to count that in her total too. 

PCG: Repeats six more intervals for 30 seconds.

Me: Okay, step it up MB.  Increase by 0.5 mph for another mile. Wow!  While I've been worried about  PCG I've actually run almost 2.5 miles!

PCG: Finishes her workout and leaves.

Me: Oh good!  I can run another half mile at a slower pace and she won't know that I cut back my speed.  Whew!  I am really tired. I finish 3 miles at a faster pace than I've done in a long time!  Thank you PCG for pushing me to run at speeds that I would have never done without you next to me.  Although you had no idea I was competing with you, I was.  Here's to another creepy treadmill run next to you in the near future!

And this is why I like running on a treadmill!  I like to see the numbers, how fast, how far, how many calories, and to find some competition.  To me, the New Year's rush is just an added bonus to my needed external motivation.

I wonder who my treadmill motivation will be tomorrow...

And my January Currently! Thanks Farley for another great layout!  You are so cray cray creative!