Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday...DIY

I have been meaning to join in on Thursday fun with The First Grade Parade for awhile, but somehow summer got the best of me.  This week I have begun to get back in to my room (I moved classrooms), so I am doing lots of thinking about what should stay and what should go.  This is a good chance for me to really look at my stuff and clean things out.

As I am thinking about all this, I am thinking about all the DIY projects that are still on my to do list.  I thought I would share with you one of the projects that I did last summer.  Making these magnets was one of my favorite projects, and I have been making them ever since (once I figured out how easy it was).

first posted  Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I am so excited that I finally made my alphabet rocks. I've been wanting to do these since I came across Shannon Martin's post from Kindergarten Hoppenings here. I wanted to put her great Chicka Boom Boom freebie and the alphabet rocks I saw on Pinterest together. So I did!!

First I gathered clear stones from Michaels and printed out the letters from Shannon's freebie on cardstock. I also tried to make my own letters using good old comic sans in a word document. I left the printed letters together and painted Mod Podge on each spot. I then stuck the clear stones on top and let them dry. After they were dry I cut them out.
I read that it was a good idea to seal the backs so I flipped them over and painted another coat of Mod Podge onto the backs. More drying time.

Last I used Tacky Glue to attach the round button magnet. One word about that....distance. I looked with pride at the magnets I had just created and discovered that the magnets wanted to be next to each other. They did what magnets should and scooted close because they were still sliding around on the not yet dry tacky glue. Easy fix...slide the magnet back into place and separate them to finish drying.

Voila!! I have two great sets of alphabet magnets to use first with my whole class and later in word work/alphabet centers.

How do you practice the alphabet?
I am thinking of making more consonants to use to make words with the vowels on the coconut tree. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HELP!!! I don't want to drown!!

Do you ever feel like that....afraid you might drown?  All these great ideas swirling around in your head and you have no idea where to start. 

I am lucky enough to host chapter 17, Where Do I Start, and Dave Burgess talks about just that.  Where do you begin?  Why do you feel like you are walking the plank?  If you just jump in, the water is fine and you will learn to swim...seriously you will not drown.  Aaaargh, You ARE a Pirate after all.

When I first knew I was going to blog about this chapter....before I read the chapter and I only knew the title, lots and lots went through my head.  

Every chapter I read got me thinking about starting.  Just like when we teach our students I knew I needed to start from where I was.  I needed to look at my own teaching and was there anything I was already doing that was pirate like....I started writing in my notebook (happily I thought of a few right off the bat). 

Then, is there anything I can easily add? (I thought of a few more)

And lastly I was asking myself, What really needs fixed? (Plenty....I need to keep asking myself all 170 "Captain Hook" questions as I prepare my lessons and keep a notebook handy)

THEN I read the chapter and realized that this wasn't about doing....but was about what is holding us back from doing.  It is about overcoming our fears.  So True!!  I always have good intentions.  But talk is cheap and why don't I do more of what I talk about doing?  FEAR!

Dave Burgess says, "taking the first step is often the hardest part of the journey".  I love to go repelling.  But the absolute hardest part every time is taking that first step backwards off the mountain.  I know it will be fun.  I have checked my ropes and I know they are secure.  I trust my belayer, but I am scared to death until I just step, once, then I am having fun!

I procrastinate a lot.   A lot!  I read once that perfectionists do that.  Their fear of failure keeps them from doing.  That I think is me.  Dave talks about four excuses people use for not being the great teacher they really want to be. 

First, I like to call the all or nothing....if I am not perfect I have failed.  Dave calls it Fear of Failure.  So what if you fail, at least you know something not to try.  So what if not every student is engaged, at least more are engaged than would have been if you had not tried.  Teaching, and life, does not have to be an all or nothing game.

Second, is You Have to Figure It All Out Before You Begin.  This is my, "If you wait until it's will never get started".  I like when Dave says, "Nobody is going to die if we experiment in the classroom and it doesn't work out."  Just come back the next day and try again, your students will be better off than if you were standing still.

Third, ties all my excuses together, Perfectionism.  For me this is big.  If I am not 100% perfect, I don't start.  I will wait until I have it all figured out.  I bounce from this thing to that trying to find the one that is perfect.  Dave says, and this must become my mantra...."You can either talk about all the great things you are going to do or you can actually do them."

Fourth, Focus.  We need to be careful about keeping ourselves busy and over-scheduled.  Just like in the chapter where we learned that everything is a choice, we are reminded that any time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.  Pirates need to stay focused on that which is most important.  Like Stephen Covey tells us, we need to fill our jar with the big things first. 

 Last is Fear of Criticism or Ridicule.  I love when Dave says, "You can fear it all you's still coming."   I always told my Cub Scouters at trainings that you can't be a good Cubmaster if you are afraid to make a fool out of yourself.  In scouting, while I am singing, or performing I don't mind being silly or foolish, but in the classroom I don't want parents, administration, or other teachers thinking I am a fool,  For that reason I often play it safe. 

Nike says...Just Do It!  Dave Burgess says...When in doubt, take action!  He reminds us that, "the best way to overcome fear is to take action.  The more action you take and the quicker you take it the better."  I know that when I am afraid of doing something (like making a phone call, I hate making phone calls of any kind)....when I finally take a deep breath and just start dialing it is never as bad as I imagined it to be.  I just need to learn to take that breath quicker. 

Whether we are stepping backwards off a cliff or walking the plank, it is best to just JUMP in and DO it.  Take a deep breath and begin.  Rip that bandage off all at once, quickly.  The water is fine once you get in.  Pirates can learn to swim!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

To Do....To Do....To Do

It is still the middle of summer...but my brain has not stopped thinking about school.  The ideas are swirling around.  I need to write them down....focus....and start getting things accomplished.

I am writing them here and linking up with Lorraine Vasquez at Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies.  So here goes:

1.  set up my brand new classroom (I am in a major need of a purge and the timing is perfect, this is HUGE)
2.  organize books and label!  (I have a pretty decent system...but they are now all mixed up and they never were labeled)
3.  organize centers (first I need to decide if I want to do it by skill or by month....or both?)
4.  decide and create notebooks
     Do I want them for:
                *Parent Communication
5.  Back to School Night Gift
6.  Birthday (how will I handle it, what will I be giving students?)
7.  Blogger Meet-Up Surprises
8.  Name Tags (around the neck or get fancy and make capes), also desk tags and cubby tags (oops that should be separate....I need to scrub those cubby labels off).
9.  Clip Chart & clips
10. First Day plans/ First Week (which team building, let's learn the routines and procedure things will I do...which books and how many can I squeeze in?)
11. Bird feeders
12.Vista Print magnets
13. storage tins ~ bling them up for markers, crayons, colored pencils
14. reading boxes

None of this includes stuff I can't do without a class list, or truly last minute.  Things like:
*make my magic playdough
*ask staff to make sneakers for "Pete the Cat" scavenger hunt/tour the school
*sharpen pencils
*make arrangements for help with first day of school pictures (check and make sure my picture frame still looks good)

I know there is more....
There are my tpt goals, and my house goals, and things I am forgetting.   Lots of things I know I am forgetting.  This blog post I believe will be a work in progress.  I am reserving the right to cross things off my list as I finish them....and to add more as I remember.

What is on your list?  Do you like to say at the end of the summer these are the things I accomplished?  I am hoping for a big old list of accomplishments come September (well August...but I am giving myself until September to add them up)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pirate Lessons ~ Chapter 7

I was reading away....trying to get caught up on my reading and posting, when too many ideas started flowing into my head.  Aaaargh!  My pirate brain is working overtime.

I am sitting with my feet in a baby pool playing water games with my 2-year old grandson.  He is squirting me with water and I am holding the book up and out of the line of fire....still trying to read.

I finished chapter 7, and now I'm trying to make myself read the next chapter.  I can't.  Whether it's his distractions or the thoughts going through my brain I figure I better put to good use what I have been learning ~ out comes my notebook (gotta get those ideas down before I forget them).  The one I am using is a bit bigger than the one I carry in my purse and I don't care if it gets wet.

So here's my brilliant learning thought:
I have some pretty good hooks and beginnings to my lessons.  But sometimes I spend hours and days thinking through the lesson sequence (the transitions).  I had been thinking I need to quit doing that. Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess is telling me that the time I spend pondering, worrying about the order I want present things, is time well spent.  Yes, time well spent rehearsing the lesson in my brain.  Time well spent making decisions about small things and big things.  Decisions about how and when will I pass out papers, will there be music, do I want students on the carpet or at their tables?  All those decisions big and little make an impact.  Great hooks are good, but I don't want to stop the learning by having dead time while I do administrative things or search for a prop.

I love this reminder:
"Your key content - the most important information you are trying to teach - should be delivered at the moment of peak engagement." 

"Far too many times, teachers capture the attention and engagement of their class and then lose it by adding some unnecessary delay between the hook and the delivery of the content.  It's not that I'm overly concerned about lost minutes.  Engagement is the real loss." 


Thanks to JCSweatpea, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Ashley Hughes, and KCFonts for their wonderful graphics and fonts.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Magical Playdough

Today I am guest blogging over at Teaching With Grace by Jennifer Gibbons.  Jennifer writes a great Kindergarten blog and with lots of wonderful ideas!  This summer she has been hosting a book study of Teaching, Drawing, Writing by Martha Horn and Mary Ellen Giacobbe. 

I share my recipe for Magical (school is exciting and cool) Playdough.  My daughter Melissa, from Wings of Blue, took some awesome pictures for me.  You will want to hop over and check it out!

Then you may want to take some time and make it with your own kiddos this summer.  I am thinking that glitter (the super fine softer kind) may increase the magical factor?  What do you think?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Pirate Soul

Do I have a pirate in my soul?  I hope so.  As I have been reading and following along with Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess I have gotten stuck on chapter 4, Ask and Analyze.  Stuck you say?  Well, not stuck exactly....but I do want to wrap my head around a few things before I move on.  This chapter is becoming life changing!

Blog stalking has become a favorite activity of mine.  There are so many talented people out there and I have grown as a teacher by reading about what they are doing and by trying some of their activities in my own classroom.  I greatly appreciate all the work they do and how generous they are with sharing their knowledge and their hard work.
So first, THANKS! to Deedee Wills, Fran Kramer, Kathleen Pederson, Hadar Moar, Debbie Clement, Crystal Radke, Deanna Jump, Heidi Butkus, Maria Manore and I have to stop because there are many many more.  I have been watching and following you and you have inspired me!

Now...not that I didn't ever think that these talented teachers weren't working hard.  I know they are working hard....long hours, taking classes and workshops, continuing to learn, reading, researching, practicing and trying out new things.  Not that I didn't know that not everything they did worked out the way they wanted it to the first time.  I know that.  My brain knows heart, well, that's another story.  I still want to say they are naturally more talented than me.  Their creativity comes easier, they are naturally better.  That's where I am stuck.  Stuck trying to get my heart to believe what my brain knows.

Dave Burgess says, "Creativity results from properly directed attention, laser-like focus, relentless effort, and hard work.  Like any skill it takes practice and effort."  He reminds us that when we use those six terrible words, "It's easy for you. You're creative."  We dismiss all the hard work and effort put into all those lessons we so admire.  He reminds us that as outsiders we "see the glorious results but know very little about the blood and sweat that happens behind closed doors." 

I do not not want to dismiss the hard work and effort of those I so admire.  I know they work hard.  I just feel inadequate and that is where I need to focus.  That is where I need go to gain my pirate soul.

I have often said that my best teaching ideas come at the last minute.  I have been willing to change my plans as a better idea comes along.  I am beginning to realize that those ideas come because I have been putting in the work of planning, researching, pondering.  Dave Burgess says, "You absolutely will receive creative inspirations out of nowhere and at the oddest times, but you will only get them if you put in the work on the front end.

I have also said my talent is recognizing a good idea.  I haven't really thought about that as being my own good idea.  Another quote form the book that I love is, "Commit.  Start working.  Then, be open.  Recognize this providential assistance when it comes, and leap to take advantage of it.

Dave suggests that we figure out a way to record those ideas when they come.  My mom is an author and she keeps a notebook by her bed.  She said she lost too many good ideas she had in the middle of the night.  She was sure she would remember them when she got up, now she writes them down no matter what time it is.  She also has a notebook and scraps of paper (envelopes, flyers, notecards) with her all the time.  I have taken to carrying a small spiral notebook in my purse.  iPads and iPhones and other technology that people carry around with them are probably good choices for some, but I am much better with a paper and pencil.  Ideas get lost and forgotten and never seem to be as good when you try to remember what that perfect flash of inspiration was.

My new goal is going to be, "an open mind, and the willingness to suspend disbelief in (my) creative ability"  That is where I think I will find my pirate soul.  I want to print this out and glue it on my lesson plan book and my mirror at home.

Thanks to Michelle at the 3am Teacher for the fun frame and Kevin and Amanda for the fonts.  Click here if you want to grab one for yourself.