Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Long time


It has been forever and a day since I have had a few moments to update our blog...and goodness, I have missed it so!

Just look how new and different our class looks compared to my last post. What a difference a few months can make when awesome parents and an awesome community are involved! We are LOVING our classroom makeover. I have wished more than once that I had pulled my desks out long ago! The possibilities are endless, and can't wait to see what I come up with this summer.


Many of you know that the reason for my long absense has been the recent illness of my father. In early February he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We knew something was truly wrong even before the diagnoses, but still the news was heart wrenching.

 

He chose to have the surgery that would remove part of his pancrease and his spleen...any extra time is precious, and we are greedily taking it.  My sister and I have spent as much time as possible at his bedside, sharing stories, giggles, and many tears. When I am not at school, you can usually find me there, so thank you all for your sweet patience in my neglect of Flamingos and Butterflies. Your kind words and prayers have meant so much. Even more, my precious class has been such a blessing to me with their own thoughtfulness and kindness with daily regards for my dad. Not a day goes by without my kiddos checking in on him. 


All sadness aside, my class is and always will be a place of comfort and happiness for me. Falling into work is an easy therapy of sorts, and again, it is hard not to count my blessings.  

We have begun work on our very first PBL, Project Based Learning. Oh my...this is my first time to venture into this world of learning, and boy can it be quite daunting to a newbie. 


Mrs. Hanna introduced this project to the kiddos, and the buzz of excitement quickly filled the air. The kiddos would have ownership of their own learning...they could guide their own goals and accomplishments each day! Yes...very definite buzz filling the air.

So we have begun this new and exciting journey, and so far...so good.

 


It has been a joy to watch the excitement of students learning from each other. Eavesdropping on their conversations has been quite comical at times and impressive at others. I find myself either scratching my head in confusion, laughing out loud, or looking on in awe of the intelligent creativeness of my kiddos.

I will spend more time updating you with details soon...just wanted to touch base and let you know we are still around and still working hard.



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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Currently a class without desks


Goodness...it has been so long since I hooked up with Farley for her monthly Currently, but I am super excited to join the party...even if I am a little late. Be sure to remember her rule of 3... and stop by and check out all the amazing bloggers that have also hooked up! 
Listening:  I am currently obsessed with Pentatonix! So beautiful.



Loving: I cannot tell you enough how blessed that I am to have a principal that lets me take chances and try new things with my kiddos. After talking with a friend and coworker about an observation she had of a classroom without desks, I couldn't get the idea out of my head, and after speaking with my principal, I decided to give it a try.

My initial thought was to pull the tables out during Christmas break, but talking to the kiddos about it proved that waiting would not be an option...talk about excited.  Check out what our room normally looks like here



My goal is to add additional seating options as the year progresses, but right now the kiddos are loving the bean bags, pillows, and futon. I did leave two tables for those students that just need that structure. 

Here are some pics of the kiddos working this week...best ever reading and writing workshops!

  


 




  




The kiddos could not have been happier with our arrangements this week. By Friday, we were rocking and rolling.... with most of the kinks worked out. This is still a work in progress, so I will give lots more detail soon.

Thinking: I will super-duper miss my student teacher very soon...this is her last week with us. Well, last three days with us. Goodness... she leaves us on Wednesday; her time went so fast! Super sad....we have all loved her! This is her reading aloud by the YouTube crackling fire on a very rainy, dreary day.
Wanting: Now anyone that knows me, knows how much I love spending time at school with my kiddos. Actually...my classroom with or without kiddos is truly one of my favorite places to be, but I am looking forward to some relaxing down time with my hubby. He works so hard, and I rarely get to see him. That being said... I CAN'T wait to have a few lazy days at home. :)

Needing: Needing to finish up a few last minute gifts, but I am almost done. If you have followed me for long, then you know that Christmas is not my holiday...I am more of a Thanksgiving girl. With four kiddos, Christmas tends to be a bit on the stressful side for me, and this year in particular is more than a bit stressful... personality flaw I am sure....but for real...my hubby calls me The Grinch.

Seriously! This is the screen saver on my phone.. so there you have it, people...I AM THE GRINCH. Actually, he may be cuter than my stressed out self. hahahahaha.

Ok...all kidding (or not so kidding) aside. I actually have my Christmas tree up. I mean it is pretty early in December and that baby is UP! That is a Christmas miracle all by itself. 
Giving: Honestly, I don't have much to give this year...other than my love and appreciation. Stressed or not, I am truly blessed by some amazing kiddos, their families, my friends, and of course my family! I love them all, and they make me smile. I have lots of hugs to share, and I can't wait to start.

Happy Reading, friends!


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Sunday, November 30, 2014

So much to be thankful for

 


Even though our Thanksgiving break is coming to an end...there is still time for us to take a moment to slow down and count our blessings.



In this, I do not even know where to begin as I am so truly blessed. I have a happy, healthy family...wonderful and true friends...a precious, sweet class...and amazing professional and educational opportunities.

Just before our break I had an opportunity to attend Arkansas Reading Association's Annual Literacy Conference, and I CANNOT wait to share all the fun I had with my kiddos.

Getting to attend is always such a fun learning experience, and I love getting to do it with friends. This year I was able to check out all the fun with my friend, Dawn.

We got there a tad bit early...not nerdy at all! We had a bit of time before our first session, so we hit up the vendors to see what we might find.

One of our first stops was with Miss Meg Dendler... a former school teacher turned author. 

 


  

Her books have won many awards, and they are written about her own pets. What a way to show kiddos an easy starting point in their writing... write about what you know! Such a sweet lady... got plenty of copies to share with the kids. :)

My next stop found Mr. Mark Rorie, a local author. His Polk Bayou kids always seem to find a mystery to solve. I had to pick up one of these for my horror fiction lovers...a ghost mystery!

  


It was time to hit our first sessions... not only do I learn tons from these experiences, it is also cool to see strategies and techniques explained and taught that I already have in place. I saw lots of Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, and Jeff Anderson of Mechanically Inclined referred to in many of those very strategies that I loved so much. You can see my previous discussions of both of these amazing educators: here, here, herehere, and here. Yes...I am a tad on the obsessive side with those two, but in a good way. I promise. :)


Since Dawn teaches cute little firsties and I hang out with wild and crazy fourthies all day, we ended up in separate directions often, but we did get to see this one together. We were both smitten with this author...such a kid at heart! Mr. Jeff Crosby, author and illustrator, was just too fun, and he held us over until the last possible moment. We ended up searching him out later, like stalkers, for autographs, and we fell in love with cute little Wiener Wolf as much as we did him.

I loved that he shared his workspace with us.

  


  

The fun did not end there...more sessions and stalking followed. 

Lookie, lookie ...look who I got to meet! That is Mr. Devin Scillian. Yes...Memoirs of a Goldfish...that Devin Scillian. He gave us tons of great advice about letting kiddos find the fun and humor in writing. Hmmm...sounds a lot like something I heard Gordon Korman say just last month. Do you think they are both onto something or what? To see my love for this sweet and funny picture book check it out,  here. Now if I thought I was smitten over Mr. Crosby...well, that was all before Mr. Scillian stood up and read Memoirs of a Goldfish...can you say voice like warm honey? I specifically asked him when he would be narrating his own books; I will be snatching those up in quick order. (Oh my...the more I share, the more crazy I sound...lol...I promise I am not THAT crazy...I think.)




Yes! That would be the one and only Mr. Andrew Clements signing books for my kiddos.  Along with Clare Vanderpool and Janet Stevens with Susan Stevens Crummel. Such an honor to meet these amazing authors and illustrators. 

  


All of this fun brings out the book loving nerd in me, and I am a true believer in how this directly impacts my kiddos. I am ALL ABOUT fostering a love of reading. When my students see my excitement, they can't help but to fall in love, too.


One of my most favorite moments from this year's conference was meeting two lovely educators from The Curly Classroom. I attended their session, Reading in the Deep, and I WAS NOT disappointed! Talk about a direct impact on student learning... light bulbs were going off...why hadn't I been doing this all along? Both presenters were super sweet and generous in the sharing of their successes. I have already  received an email from Suzanne with the work she has been doing with her fourthies. I cannot wait to use it in my classroom. If you get a moment, be sure to stop by their blog for some amazing ideas!


Well,  ladies and gents...with that, I must call it a night. The hubs is fussing that I need to get on over to the couch to watch our Walking Dead. Yes...our Walking Dead LOL...goodness...what's one more obsession?

Happy Reading, friends!





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