Friday, March 29, 2013

Dr. Marcia Tate, Instagram & Five for Friday!

Hello and happy Good Friday to all my fabulous teacher peeps!  Yay for a 4-day work week and a 3-day weekend!! 

Can I just say, that living without a computer almost pushed me over the edge?!?!  There are many, many, MANY things you can do from your phone........but blogging is not one of them. Don't get me wrong.........I know it's do-able.........but it's not!!!  Not to mention that my graduate courses are all online and I'm about 3 weeks behind on those.  Lots to do :{

The first thing I wanted to share with you all is the workshop that I attended with Dr. Marcia Tate.  Ohmiword........that woman is a genius.......and she's an inspiration.  I loved every minute of that 2-day conference.  I didn't look at my watch once.  The time simply flew by. 

The first day's workshop was entitled, "Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites".  She has written a book with this same title, and then went on to make more subject specific editions (available on Amazon):
She also wrote a book about classroom management (see below):

The first thing she told us on Monday morning was that she had 3 reasons why every teacher needed to use the 20 instructional strategies that she was going to share with us.  She told us that they:
  • increase achievement for all students
  • decrease behavior problems (a successful student rarely disrupts your class) and they
  • make teaching and learning fun!

Needless to say, she had 200 teachers with ears perked and sitting on the edges of our seats.  Who doesn't want that?  We all want our students to be successful!  We all want to spend more time teaching and less time managing behavior......and we all want to have a good time doing it!!!

She then went over 20 instructional strategies and how to use them in your classroom.  She used 16 of the 20 on us while she taught her workshop.  It was effortless (it seemed) and we all had a blast.  The thing that I thought was the most interesting wasn't necessarily the 20 strategies, but the reasons behind why they work.  She explained quite a bit about how the human brain works, especially memory cells.  Isn't that what learning is mostly about?  Remembering what you have been talking about, working on, etc?  If you can't remember it, did you really learn it?  Long term retention should be our goal, not just passing a test or completing a worksheet.  They need to know the information we teach in our classrooms to become life-long learners, not just test-passers.  

The second day we talked about assessment in a workshop called, "Assessment:  How do we know they're learning?".  For this workshop, we discussed and learned about different forms of assessment and why you should use an assortment of both "selected responses" (the multiple choice, true/false, matching types of assessments) and "constructed responses" (products and performances).  Between the 200 teachers in that room, we came up with over 50 ways that we could assess our students' learning without using a paper/pencil type of test.  We all know that sometimes we have to use a paper/pencil type of test........we really do.  But sometimes we over use it (I know I do).  I do it because it's easier for me to grade and it's easier for me to prepare.  But how many students do I have sitting in my room that know more than I'm aware of.......because I'm not assessing them the "right" way?  That's something I've been thinking about all week.  What if I gave them multiple ways to show me what they know??  Food for thought.....

Moving on......just a little note.  Third Grade & Lovin' It now has an Instagram account.  Some days you just wanna share a photo and not write an entire post about it......ya know?  If you wanna follow me there and get a look inside my classroom, I'd love to have ya :)

Last, but certainly not least, I'm linkin' up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for some Friday fun :)
1.  Starbucks.  Need I say more?  This stuff can turn that frown upside down.  I {heart} Starbucks.

2.  This Easter is my baby girl's very 1st Easter!!  We are having my sisters and their kiddos over tomorrow for some egg and Easter cookie decorating fun!!
3.  I don't have a picture of this........but I got my hair done on Tuesday and I love it!  My hair needed some attention........and I needed some alone time.  Gotta love the salon :)
4.  This blogging calendar is {da bomb}!  It is an excellent way to stay organized with your blog and linky parties and giveaways and all that good stuff.  You can get it here from Gina @ Third Grade Tidbits.
5.  We had to take Jaci to an ENT this week......and guess what???  We're gettin' tubes put in her ears in a couple of weeks.  She took the news quite well :)
Whew......that was a long one!  I hope you all have a fantastic Easter weekend!!!  
Keep livin' the dream,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted :)

I'm linkin' up with Flying into First Grade for a little get-to-know-ya eggggstravaganza!!!

I love getting to know the fabulous community of teachin', bloggin' peeps out there.  It's a {noun} game this we go!

If you have kids and a husband.....this is impossible.  Family is my first love and I couldn't possible choose.  BUT....since I'm being forced (wink, wink).....I'll choose our newest addition, Jaci Brooke.  She is 10 months old and one of the best things I've ever done!
My home.  It truly is my favorite place to be.  It's my place of peace.  It's my safe place.  It's where everything I love is.  It's heaven on earth.
I hate to admit this.....but it's a toss up between my phone or my computer.  I could run the world from my phone.  It's fantastic.
My pup, Havoc.  He's our 4 (almost 5) month old Siberian husky.  He is a wonderful addition to our fam jam! He is Jaci's best friend.  He knows just how to treat her.....easily, but also playfully.  They love each other.
Don't forget to link up and get acquainted :)

Keep livin' the dream,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Problems with my hard drive

This is gonna be a short, little update. You know that new computer I got after the "blizzard of 2013" caused a power surge to fry my old one?!?!  Well, the hard drive on the new computer went ka-put yesterday morning.  After a loooonnnng call with tech support, they are sending me a new hard drive to install. It should be here on Wednesday. I have lots to share about our test prep week and all the things we are's just gonna have to wait. I'm blogging from my phone right now.....uuggghhhh.  Prayers for a quick fix/installation would be appreciated.

Hope to see you all again soon :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Countdown to STAAR!

Is Spring Break really over?? Really?!?!?!? The loud and unforgiving ringing of my alarm clock this morning says "'s over!"

That can only mean one thing: the STAAR test (our high stakes, standardized test here in the Lone Star state) is just around the 5 weeks to be exact :(

Here's my plan: review, review, review......and just when I think they've had enough review......I'm gonna review some more!!! I'm gonna try and mix it up as much as I make the review as fun and engaging as possible! Luckily, I have some really creative teacher blogger friends to help me out with the "engaging" part! 

Here is a how my math workshop/guided math block goes:

1) Bell Work- this is a spiral review of some kind.  In Texas, we have something called Target Math.  We work a different color each day and by the end of 2 weeks (10 days) we are done with a set.

We do this together, whole group.

2) We practice word/story problems EVERY day.  We do 3-4 problems together, whole group.  We use "Look, Know, Solve" boxes.  The students find what we are looking for (the question in the problem), the information we are given and then a place to work it out. This is a great way for the kids to pull out the info they need and know what they are looking for!

3) Then we do stations.  This is the part my kids love!  We have tried stations 2 other times this year and we had to stop both times.....they just couldn't handle the responsibility and independence.  I had to do everything whole group (which I hate) and I couldn't meet with my small groups (which I hate even more!).  I told them that we could do fun practice and games while I met with small groups or they could do worksheets while I met with small's their choice.  Today.....they made the right choice :)

My math stations go to the acronym T.I.M.E.

T- teacher time (work with me at my table doing a student guided lesson......right now we are working on our Countdown to STAAR curriculum)
I- independent work (usually STAAR practice of some kind)
M- math fact practice (my choice, sometimes a game, sometimes independent practice, sometimes computer practice)
E- enrichment (the fun!)

I'm trying this.  I really can't say if I love it or not......I'll let ya know in a month or so :)  I'm hoping it works and that I can keep it for next year, too!  In looking for items for some whole group activities and for my enrichment station, I found some great stuff on TpT (shocking.....I know!).

That's all for now!  Wish me luck with stations this week......cause I'm gonna need it :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

My first {FREEBIE}.....a homework pass!

This is gonna be a short post, folks!

I did it.....finally!  It took me hours.....which is sad, because it's nothing to rant and rave about.  BUT..... I have finally finished my first printable!!! Yayyyyyyyy! 

You can upload this freebie here!

It's simple.  It's not grade or subject specific. 

I am still working on how to use fonts in Powerpoint.  For some reason, the fonts I downloaded would work in Word, but not in Powerpoint.  Does anyone have any ~tricks of the trade~ when it comes to this stuff?!?!?! 

I hope some of you can get some use out of this homework pass.  I promise I'll get better :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My very first printable.....coming soon!

Well....I think I'm gonna try to create my very first printable.  This is a big deal for me.  I am not artsy or crafty.  I learned about TpT and fell in love with it because that meant that I didn't have to be artsy OR crafty.  It meant that I could use/purchase the artistic and creative products of others.  I was thrilled! However, the downside of always being the one purchasing, is that it isn't always perfect or exactly what I am looking for.  More often than not, I end up tweaking my lesson around the activity I found because I so enjoy the hands on activities.  This led me to where I am now......attempting to create my own stuff!  I am excited and a little scared.  I am going to start with something really, really small.  Please, I beg you, do not get your hopes up!  This will only result in heartbreak.  It's going to be simple, something with 1-2 pages.  Hopefully, I will be able to sit down tomorrow and hammer it out......if not, at least get a good start on it.  As soon as I have it all done...I will post it here as my very first {FREEBIE}!! 

Wish me luck, folks :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New blog design, some {ShOuT oUts} and my very first LINKY party!

It's's's here!!  If I could physically climb on my roof (without hurting myself) and shout it....I would.  But instead, I'll settle for a more metaphorical "shout if from the rooftops" kind of thing. 

My new blog design is here!  I love you love it??  It's bright, it's colorful, it's perfection!  A huge, huge shout-out to Christi from Ms. Fultz's Corner!  She is not only a fanstastic teacher and "sharer of knowledge" (is sharer a word?!?), but she also does blog design.  You can visit her web design page here! If you are looking to have a blog make-over...she's your gal! add to my hysteria (the good kind, not the crazy kind), I have some A-M-A-Z-I-N-G new followers: Dana @ 3rd grade Gridiron, Christi @ Ms. Fultz's Corner, Mandy @ Mandy's Tips for Teachers, Diane @ Teaching with Moxie and Donna @ Math Coach's Corner!  Ohhh.....mmmm...geeeee!!!  These women are like celebrities in the blogging world...and they are following my blog!!!!  Are you kidding me?? How generous of these ladies to offer their support and expertise to a newcomer!?!?!  Thank you ladies!  It means more than you know :)

And last, but not first linky party!  I'm so excited!! (and, just to warn you....I overuse exclamation marks {!!!!})

Christi over at Ms. Fultz's Corner is hosting a "My Advice to You" Linky Party!  It's a brilliant idea and I'm honored to be a part of it!

As a 2nd year teacher, I don't have any veteran teacher advice.  However, I do have some advice for the soon-to-be 1st year teachers that some of my more experienced colleagues may have forgotten (mostly because they do it so routinely, they don't even realize they do it).

1. If something isn't working; change it!  This seems like a simple concept, but I can't tell you how many times I tried to "stick it out" when something wasn't working.  I don't know if it was because I didn't want to admit that I was wrong with an idea or strategy or if I thought I hadn't given the concept enough time to work itself out. Don't get me wrong, some things need time before the kids get the routine, etc.  But trust your gut.....if it's not working, try something else.  You won't look stupid, or out of control.  Champion teachers do it all the time.  I've seen it.  It's brilliant.

2. Choose your teacher peeps carefully!  You have no control who your principal hires or what team you get put on (usually).  But you do choose who you spend your extra time choose with caution.  Spend time with positive people....people who make you want to do better....not the people who make you want to quit...each day....again and again.  We all vent, we all gripe....we have a hard job and we need an outlet.  But don't spend your extra time, or your "down" time with people who cannot, or choose not, to lift you up and support you!  You are a product of your surroundings.  Make your surroundings beautiful and uplifting!

3. Leave work at WORK!  This is, by far, the hardest thing for me to do.  This does not mean that you can never bring papers home, or read a teacher blog or do anything "teacher-like" at home.  It does mean to set up boundaries.  This is hard.  We are do-ers.  We are planners.  We are get-it-done types of people.  If we have an idea or a thought, we want to share it, create it, send it,  etc.  And that's a good thing.  But we also need rest.  We need time to relax.  We need family/friend/dog/cat/movie/whatever-you-do-to-chill-out time! When you are with your family or friends....really be there.  Put your work aside and commit to the moment you're in.  Work will be there when you get back!

That's all I got...I hope it helps.  You have a community of loving, devoted, caring and genius people at your fingertips here in our teaching blogging community.  Take advantage :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Teach Like A Champion

If you have not read "Teach Like A Champion" by Doug are truly missing out on a brilliant resource.

I have never considered classroom management to be a problem for me. I have 2 children, I've worked as a juvenile detention officer at a secure, lock-down facility, and I have never struggled with maintaining control and composure around children. Until now.

Apparently, I have abandoned everything I know about consistency and being relentless in my expectations. I think I have been afraid of seeming "out of control" and didn't want others to see the struggle. No one wants to be the girl with 10 office referrals a day!

I have a genuinely rough bunch this year. I think it is a mixture of a lack of consistency with discipline, both at home and at school, and some sincere "I just don't care" attitude problems. I have been incredibly emotional and upset most days. I come home venting to the spouse so much that he doesn't even think I enjoy teaching anymore. And I haven't.....not lately. But that's not because of the teaching, or the is because I've allowed too much to go on without consequence.

While reading TLaC, I'm reminded of the importance of consequence.  That consequence can be a simple verbal reminder, or a missed recess, or a parent phone call or an office referral. The thing I must remember is that their actions determine my reaction and that I am not responsible for their behavior choices. I will be proactive, but in the is their choice.  I am responsible for creating a classroom climate conducive to learning and greatness. I must be consistent. 

I was also reminded of the value of great expectations. The book talked about the difference between praise and acknowledgement. You do not praise a student for meeting expectations...because that is expected. You acknowledge it, but not praise it. I cannot tell you how many times I fail to so this. I almost did cartwheels last week when a student put his name on his paper. This sends the wrong message to the rest of my class. They've been putting their names on their papers all year and I never get that excited for them! I am bound and determined to change this. I will celebrate excellence and going above and beyond...I will no longer act as if meeting the expectations is something to jump up and down about. It is expected. Period.

I know I'm not the only teacher in the world {at least I hope I'm not} that has experienced this cuh-RAZ-iness. And I hope that reading about my struggle and the amazing resource I'm using will help a fellow teacher in their endeavors to create a classroom culture of respect, expectations and greatness!

Wish me luck....because when we return from Spring is. on!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Greg Tang!!! & a {nEw} BLOG design [coming soon]!

Ohhhh....mmmyyyy.....word!!! I. Am. Pooped!! You would think only working one day last week (2 snow days, a sick baby, and a personal day + a weekend) would have me all kinds of rested....but...NO! Coming back from 2 consecutive days of sub notes and student work was a little more than I bargained for. top it all off, the "blizzard of 2013" has left me with no computer :(

I want to cry. Really.

Luckily, the geek squad said that they could recover my hard drive...but that could be another week or so. Ugghh....

On to happy things... The Greg Tang books that I ordered came in!!! I love Greg Tang's books....they are cute, fun and the kids {heart} them!

Last, but certainly not least... Christi from Ms. Fultz's Corner is working on a new blog design for me!! She has already shown me some pieces of it and I cannot wait to see it when she is done!!!! Yayyyy :) 

That's all for tonight, my blogger peeps.... Only 3 more work days until Spring Break! But who's counting, right?!?