Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Not-So-Together Teacher Gets it Together!

I'm baaaaack! I took two weeks off everything to spend time with my family on a road-trip that wiped me out! My husband thinks vacation means cramming as much in the day as possible. He had us up at 8:00 each day going from one adventure to another and then we would fall exhausted into bed around 12:00 dreaming of the fun we had that day. Niagara Falls, Anchor Bar, Mount Washington, Acadia, Boston and everything in between were the places we explored. I've needed a week to recover from our vacation!
We had one day to cover Boston...and we did!






Now my vacation is over and the vacation from my vacation is over! I do have to mention that my husband and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. If you'd like to see us the way we were follow me on Instagram!

Friday is the day I go help put my room back together after the floors have been stripped and waxed. I feel ready to tackle the coming year, but want to start off being a bit more organized. That's why I jumped on the chance to join Kelly at An Apple For The Teacher in her book study The Together Teacher. Here is how not together I sometimes operate...I waited until the day the study started to order the book. Lucky for me I could read most of the first chapter on Kindle Cloud Reader. What I like about the book is that it comes with a CD with everything ready to print to help me be a bit more together this year. Some people seem to be born organized, don't they? Some of us have to really work at it. I do believe that organization can be practiced and learned even by old dogs like me! 

Maia gave me 10 rules for being together. She also gave me questions to reflect on for each of the rules. They really struck a chord with me. 
Taken from The Together Teacher : Plan Ahead, Get Organized, and Save Time!
by Maia Heyck Merlin
Kelly has more to say about getting organized so go visit her and tell her an Owl sent you!
An Apple for the Teacher


Don't skip the forward...It is really good!!









Friday, June 27, 2014

The Triple Dip! (Five For Friday!)

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***If you don't have time to read this whole long post....Please read #4. I'm asking for an opinion and I know you have one! Thanks!!


Well hello there again! I can't believe I've managed to post some thoughts three times in one week. It is so quiet in my house tonight. My daughter is having a campfire on the HOTTEST night so far this summer and my son is out with friends and I have no idea where my Cranky Bear is, but I think it has something to do with a car and a water tank!

I'm going to do a little double or triple dipping for my Five for Friday. I hope you don't mind. You wouldn't mind if it was ice cream so I know you won't mind it here. Here goes...

On this hottest night of the year I made this yummy snack for the kids toasting out by the campfire. I had my first in St. Louis and I think I've finally found a recipe to rival any I had there. You may have one or two and you may double or triple dip if you like!
Go on...Take one!



So I signed up for Instagram. I LOVE it. I may be late to the party, but I'm having as much fun as anyone else. I'm not sure what the etiquette is for how many times you can post, but I've double or triple dipped today. You can follow me if you want. I'm owlthingsfirst and I haven't figured out how to link my blog to it or if you even can. Come see the wild turkeys in my backyard, or my precious uke player!
Don't click to look inside. Do click to go to a great give away! An Apple For The Teacher is giving this book away AND hosting a book study to along. I really need to win because I need to do a better job planning ahead, getting organized AND saving time! Just click on the book to enter which I hate for you to do because then I don't have as good a chance at winning it.


I am reading along with a group of teachers Donalyn Miller's  Reading in the Wild. It is a powerful text on how to instill lifelong "wild" reading. This week we were to read the section on "Creating a Workshop Schedule That Works for You". One of the things we must keep in mind when setting up a schedule is what  we are required to include. That has me doing some wondering and questioning. Now if you have actually read all the way down to here, I hope you will give me your opinion of what I'm thinking about. I'll stop thinking about it if you think it can't be done. 
So my son has taken a couple of "flipped" classes. They watch video lectures at home and then have more class time to work and have assistance from the instructor. Then they can even go back and listen to the lecture again if they didn't get it the first time. It got me thinking about what I might be able to "flip". I have to teach the basal reader. It is one of my "required" inclusions! In order to make more time for independent reading practice in my classroom, I thought I could send the basal reader home each week with an assignment to complete at home. I would still use the targeted mini-lesson and word work, but I'd be able to use class time to practice the strategies with the students with self-selected books. Do you think it is worth thinking about? I'll leave you with one my favorite quote from this section. I'll leave number 4, anyway!
I hope you'll click on the quote to see some pretty amazing waysothers have set up their schedules for a workshop that works for them. It may work for you, too! 



I leave now to get back to a book I started this morning and have to finish. If you teach fourth or fifth grade this is a book you will want in your library. I love anything WWII and this is not disappointing me at all! A Jewish boy has to move with his family away from his beloved Paris to a safer place to avoid the Nazis. I'm almost to the part where he joins the French Resistance and goes back to Occupied France. Oh my goodness! Look there the book is right there below these words. How cool is that?





Did you catch the triple dip? 5 for Friday, Reading in the Wild, AND a Give Away. Have a great week! Next Friday is the 4th already! Why does time go more quickly in the summer?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Reading in the Wild Chapter 1



My daughter found time to read at her first sleepover!
Reading non-fiction is hard for me. Even if it does deal with subjects near and dear to my heart. I'm a junky for anything dystopic or Historical Fiction. I just finished Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews and was surprised at how hard I fell into it. I'm hoping by joining Think, Wonder, & Teach and 3rd Grade Book Worm I'll be held accountable for reading Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller.

After reading the first chapter I feel good about the time I dedicate each day to independent reading practice. I also feel thrilled that by the end of the year many of my students are taking books to lunch each day and reading to each other.

I have to admit that I need to do more to foster a love of reading for some of my students who fake read. The section in Chapter 1 on Independent Reading Observation was eye opening for me. I usually feel like I have to be busy the whole time my students are reading. Teaching first grade, I spend a lot of time reading to and with my students. I take every possible moment to be actively involved with them as they read independently. I can see the value in sitting back and observing reading habits. Donalyn follows observations, with evaluations, reflections and finally conferences with her students. If she can do it, so can I!

Do you know any wild readers? During the whole chapter I thought of my daughter. She is WILD. She is a wild reader. I read to her before she was born and continued reading through most of the children's section of the library before she started formal education in Kindergarten. I have so many pictures of her where I caught her reading. Today we like different genres, but she'll reading anything laying around the house to feed her habit.
She looks pretty wild, huh? My mom always read to us and
she always loved reading to grandchildren.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Show and Tell


I'm linking up with Barbara to do a little Show & Tell! You can share just about anything you think is worth sharing. You can read more about the linky and find some other Show & Tells by clicking on the image above...The one that says "Tuesday Linky" Thanks, Barbara...What a great idea!

My love for chickens may have started when I read the book Chicken Boy by Frances O'Roark Dowell early in the year. It may be the best YA title I read with my 7th and 8th grade reading students. I love the kindness that a boy with an obsession for chickens shows a kid with not much going for him after his mother dies leaving his family emotionally shipwrecked. His Granny tries, but she is quiet a character and doesn't get along with her son-in-law.  Whoops! Sorry....I didn't mean to go on quite so much about the book! Back to chickens...
I took these pictures to share with you today. My ladies are getting pretty close to laying their first eggs. They never go to far away from each other and like to follow me around the yard. Sometimes they'll hop up on the windowsill to look for me. If I sit down outside, they hop up on my lap and try to settle down.

Like Tobin, I have learned some things about life from my chickens. It is okay to be curious, it is fun to play in the dirt, eat whatever is offered, and most importantly...find a friend and stick with them!


Friday, June 20, 2014

Five For Friday




Isn't it funny how even over summer vacation there is something AwESome about Fridays? Of course Doodle Bugs Teaching's 5 for Friday gives me something to look forward to all week long! Drum roll please...Here are my FiVE random things from this week:
Do you remember getting the Sears Wish Book catalog when you were a kid? My sister and I would sit knee to knee and elbow to elbow searching that catalog for our favorite things. We'd write our name on each thing we wished for and would spend hours studying it. I made a connection to that memory when I opened my mailbox and found this...
I LOVE this catalog. It is so full of great ideas that get my mind dreaming of next year's edventures!

I had my first "playdate" this week. I invite new and old students to come to class and play. We work on a craft, read books, have a snack and play! It is a great way to help my new first graders get used to me and encourage reading and growing all summer long. I read these two great books...

I love this book. It is written in rhyme and provides great information
about a variety of different bird nests. This was my favorite read for the day. My Owlets loved this one...

Rosie the hen has a walk that she thinks is with out much adventure. The fox that stalks her has quite a difficult time
trying to catch up to her. The illustrations are funny and help tell this delightful story. I have been using this book for years with emergent readers and it is most definitely one of my top 10 picks for new readers!


Our playdate theme was birds. Our craft was paper plate birds. We painted them one color and then added details with wiggly eyes and feathers. I think they turned out pretty cute.


I have finally entered the world of sensory bins. Oh my! I wasn't sure if they'd get used, but the students I thought of when making them were attracted to them and played in them for most of the free play time. They sifted, poured and made up bird stories as they played in the birdseed. I can hardly wait to make another one for our next playdate. Thanks to Sandi at Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes for so much inspiration! I've been stalking your blog, Sandi, looking at these bins for such a long time. I wasn't sure exactly what the benefits would be, but for my new student with Selective Mutism I think the benefits will be HUGE! 




Crinkly paper, rubberband worms, feathers, binoculars, eggs and birdseed make this a perfect home for my Beanie Baby!

I'm branching out and making birds and chickens now!

My friend Kimberly is doing a great series on making time. If you haven't checked it out, you should! HERE you will find a guest post by Tiny Teeny Teacher YOU MUST READ IT!! 




Well I'm off to enjoy reading blogs for inspiration and fun. Friday nights are the best!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Something Old Something New Something Free Just For YOU!



My daughter recently became engaged to a wonderful southern gentleman. My own groom of 25 years and I are so excited for them. They've got me thinking about something old, something new, something  borrowed and something blue. As I reflect over the past year I can think of something from my classroom that fits into each category.

Alright the only things older than me in the classroom are these fossils! My students
loved uncovering bones and finding out which dinosaur they belonged to. I ordered small dinosaur dig kits from
Oriental Trading Company. They lived up to their description! 

I just made these bookmarks for students to keep track of their summer reading.
They're FREE for a limited time on Teacher Pay Teacher. You can always get them FREE
HERE!

No Oreos were left uneaten at the end of this moon activity. The evening we worked
on this I went to a couple of students baseball games and we were able
to identify the moon's phase thanks to this activity I borrowed from Hilary Lewis.
After eating the oreo we used chalk to make a more permanent resource for home!


Our school bluebirds were back this year. In fact, there were two nesting pairs around
the playground. They fledged on the last day of school! I loved recess duty during the time
the mom and dad were coming and going feeding their young. I opened the box to check the chicks a couple
of times. I counted five little bluebirds! They'll nest again in this box  this summer.



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Currently May

Welcome, May! No one loves May more than those of us who have lived through five months of snow and cold. Warmer temperatures and sunnier skies who doesn't like that? I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade. Have you seen her packet for students on TPT? My students look forward to filling out and decorating their own Currently.




Can you tell that I am a total bird-brain?! Spring is the time of year that I have a hardest time going to school. I just want to go bird watching and catch the many migrating birds that fly through on their way north for the summer. 
I just got this gorgeous book about bird nests. 

The rhyme and rhythm of this book made it a delightful find for me and my students love learning the facts about different bird nests. I will never have enough bird books!

Surprise Tammy at Forever in First! You won a set of juggling chicks. I hope your students will enjoy tossing and catching these little guys as much as I enjoy making them. Tammy, I love your Saturday Sayings. They always give me great food for thought! Did you see the chicks? Click here to see them!

My real chicks are getting so big! They have been so much fun to watch grow.