Sunday, September 29, 2013


So, I used Prezi, like, really USED Prezi, for the first time to create my presentations for our RESD wide PD day. I think they look pretty cool, I just pray they will work properly tomorrow!

Presentation One

Presentation Two


I am presenting at a Professional Development day for the first time. It's a bit nerve wracking. I'm a bit overwhelmed. And....due to my extreme talent at procrastination, I have spent the past 24 hours (well, 29 or so) putting together my presentations. I used Prezi...for the first time ever. Now that I know how to do it, it is not so bad, and I really kind of dig how the presentations came out.

Also...I replied to a tweet of Kevin Honeycutt's, and he is following me now! I know he follows a lot of people, but it's still pretty cool! Plus, I tweeted that I was excited to listen to him tomorrow afternoon (I AM!!! He was so fabulous to listen to at the MACUL conference!), but that I was nervous about presenting...and he tweeted me back. Ack...

I am going to post my Prezis on the bloggie here in just a an extra "back-up" of "let's be sure they are where I need them when I need them. Giving these presentations tomorrow is going to be quite a trip. I am really hoping they are the length they need to be. Though the first one may be a bit short, and the second a bit long...who knows? I guess we shall see tomorrow. Wish me luck, bloggie land!


Sunday, September 22, 2013


Okay, so the first three weeks of school have kicked my behind! How about all of you?

I've been busy with all of the beginning of the year stuff, and have been keeping up the blog for my classroom/students/parents better than I have this one!

Anyway...I thought I'd share some of the highs and lows of the first few weeks of kindergarten with all of you, who, I am sure, have gone through many of the same things.

Let's start with the lows, and get those bad boys out of the way...

The first one, and the biggest, is the amount of assessment I've had to do in the first three weeks of school. It is overwhelming, and it bugs me. I have to do: rote count, letter names, letter sounds (yes, letter sounds in the first three weeks of K), rhyme choice, rhyme supply, DIBELS Initial Sound Fluency and Letter Naming Fluency, and a writing sample, scored with a complex rubric (basically, all of my K students are guaranteed to NOT meet the criteria for success on this rubric). Oh, and we also had to spend time doing the online Early Star Literacy test. On top of this, I am supposed to be doing shapes, colors, and just taking stock of where my students are in general. I have spent the past three weeks feeling overwhelmed by assessment. I want to spend the beginning of the school year getting to know my students, getting to spend time with them, to put routines and procedures into place, and, more than anything else, to build relationships with my students, and to help them build relationships with one another. We've worked toward that, but we've also been bursting with assessments. Sigh.

Second...our new math series. We moved to My Math, by McGraw Hill, a Singapore math based program. I will say, in the interest of clarity, that I was one of the individuals who selected the program. I will also say...we were moving to Singapore math regardless of my choice, and My Math seemed like the best of the three programs we were presented with. That is taking a crazy amount of time to do math lessons that I really believe my students could "get" better in different ways. However, we are implementing with fidelity this year...I love the sequence of it--our first few lessons were understanding what counting is, and being able to count and write the numbers 1, 2, 3. We are now working on 4 and 5. My problem is that trying to do this program in whole group is highly ineffective. My students who are on or above level are spending time sitting while I try to get my students who are struggling caught up. I think I need to do the math in small groups, but I have no idea where or how to structure it. I am NOT the best workshop or center-based learning teacher...and so this is killing me. I have to figure it out.

Speaking of center-based learning...we are being required to use Daily Five/literacy center based time during our "Panther Prowl" this year. This is the time when we deliver our interventions to students. We were given six weeks to implement Daily Five in our classrooms. I'm three weeks in, and I've implemented read to self...kind of. My students don't have book boxes/bags/bins, and have barely begun being allowed to select their own texts. I am overwhelmed by it all. To top it all off, I bought the D5 book two years ago, on my Kindle, and I somehow switched kindle accounts, and have no access to the actual book. WHAT? It's driving me crazy, but we are doing the best we can. On the plus side, my kinders built their stamina for read to self to almost seven minutes the other day. Then we had to take some time off to do Early Star during our D5 time, and THEN I had to break from D5 to finish assessments (and I still need to do so again tomorrow). Anyway...I have to work on building Read to Self more, and begin to introduce and implement the other parts of D5 I am going to do this year. We will do read with a partner, and word work, for sure. Work on Writing may come later in the year, as well as listen to reading. Listen to reading SOUNDS easy, but when you have NO books on tape/CD, and no way to really build a listening's quite challenging.

The final "low"...just remembering how tough the management is at the beginning of the year. I LOVED doing Whole Brain Teaching last year, but I either haven't implemented it well this year, or it just isn't gelling with this class. I am keeping with it, and hoping it will work. I had an amazing class last year. This year's class is wonderful, but the personalities are very different from last year's group. Not in a bad way, just in a way that has different needs, so what worked last year may not be successful this year...which is what makes teaching an amazing challenge.

Now, really... there are highs this year, too!

First...I've been keeping up with blogging on our classroom blog! Yay! This is a big deal. There are other things I need to do better with it, but I've had a new blog post each week, which is amazing for me!

Second...I have two "new" paraprofessionals for our Title I time, and I feel like we will (sooner than later) work together well. I felt much better about my school day once I really went to using my Title I time the way it "should" be used.

Third...We really are getting into a routine, and learning our procedures more and more. Thank goodness! I'm getting that structure back together, and we are making progress.

Fourth...We have worked out many of our beginning of the year kinks. Yay! highs are kinda weak right now. They will strengthen and grow over the next few weeks, I know. Oh, and here is a HIGH. I have a GREAT group of students! They are going to be wonderful this year!!!

One final thought...I have been really inspired by the social media I follow...the teachers who are out there, sharing and creating, amaze me regularly. and keep me inspired to keep trying, even when things get hard, and the lows feel bigger than the highs. They also give me new places to go to read, learn, and build my strategies. Awesome!

Hope you all are having a good start of the year (or maybe you are already two months in, and feeling like things are FINALLY settling in). We always tell parents to give their child six weeks to adjust. I suppose I really need to give myself the same leeway! Wish me luck!


Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently

I loved doing "Currently" for the first time last month. This monthly party is hosted by the amazing Farley...check it out if you haven't before...and check out my September Currently...(oh, btw, I love the artwork she used for this month's currently card...I have had this element pack of Kate Hadfield's on my wishlist at The LilyPad forEVER. I need to buy it. Hmmm...maybe that should have been my "need"...LOL!)

So, anyway...there I was...LOL. Yeah, you may not get that...but I was typing, and literally thinking, "So, anyway", because that's totally how I speak, and then it transitioned into the lyrics of the song I've been listening to on loop for the past 15 minutes. First off, I LOVE Beth Orton. One of my all-time favorite artists. If you have never heard of, you should. I'd suggest Central Reservation as a great entrance point, though I came in earlier in her career, at Trailer Park, and both of those albums are complete favorites of mine. The song Sweetest Decline is off Central Reservation, and I adore it. I "like" Beth on Facebook, and tonight she (or whomever manages her FB, I have no idea), posted a link to this great cover Ryan Adams did of her song. I love it. I will admit I do not know Ryan Adams well, other than to know he's quite popular (yes, I'm one of those people who doesn't really follow "new" music anymore...I have what I love, and I stick to that..I'm lame, I know!). So, anyway, there I was...just listening to Ryan and doing...Farley's Currently...LOL.

Loving...this was an easy one today. From Friday evening till early this afternoon, I spent the most time I have in YEARS in my mom's hometown. I've gone every year, but haven't stayed overnight in almost three years, and that was in November, for my grandmother's, while a meaningful and wonderful event, not really a happy, let's go hang at the beach kind of getaway. The hubs and kids and I spent our Labor Day weekend in a small house I share with my cousins (we are very blessed to have been given this gift by our auntie). This was "our" weekend, postponed from the weekend before (courtesy of car problems). The house is 3 blocks from the beach, and we had a perfect beach weekend--high 70s, low 80s and sunny! My kids LOVED the beach, and the water was warm enough to swim comfortably...any of you who have been to Lake Michigan know that is a rare thing! We walked all over town, did the tourist-y thing, visited the shop/pharmacy my grandpa used to own, and showed the girls his picture, still hanging on the wall...I think some other tourists thought I was crazy, standing in MacDonald's Pharmacy, tears in my eyes, as I told my kids that the man up there is your great-grandpa...but it was meaningful to me. Really, an amazing, great weekend. Yeah. Even herding the four and two year old everywhere for three days, it was worth it. starts tomorrow. TO MOR ROW. No, really. Tomorrow. What the heck??? How did that happen? I am so not READY. And my little a FIRST grader. We are now in to uncharted territory. Last year was easy. I know K inside and out. First grade??? What the heck are we doing? I don't know what happens in FIRST grade!!!

Wanting...Day One to be a breeze. We are doing a"transitional" day for students, coming for half a day. Parents have the option to stay, but do not HAVE to. This could get interesting. Plus, making that good first impression on parents, while working to build trust with students. It's a fine line to walk, and will be interesting. The kids come first, no matter what, so that's where my focus will be. I think we'll do's just a bit overwhelming! go to bed...but first, to figure out what I am wearing tomorrow...and let's not think about the fact that I did not do much healthy eating over the weekend, and I think I gained about 47 pounds (my husband assures me this is not possible. I am questioning his sanity). Yeah. Picking out clothes. As soon as I get off the computer...

Which brings me to those goals...#1 unplug more regularly. While I want to be connected, and I am working to build my professional learning network, through this blog, through twitter, and instagram, and all the social media out there, I need to take more time to just be with my family. Another gift this past weekend gave me! This is going to be a challenge, because my online courses start up again in a couple of weeks, and balancing grad work with family is HARD for me. I will be very ready when December comes and I am DONE and really CAN turn off the computer whenever I want, because I don't HAVE to do anything!

Goal #2 will culminate at the end of September. I am signed up to lead not one but TWO presentations at an RESD-wide PD day at the end of the month. This is terrifying. First, because I've never done it before, and, like many of you, put me in front of a group of 50 five year olds, and I'm fine. A room full of my peers? You have got to be kidding. Second, because I don't feel like an expert at this! I feel like I am just keeping my head above water, or just learning to dog paddle in the shallow end. And I know there are people in the RESD who are WAY ahead of me at this. But I guess, then, the reality is that my session won't be for them, they'll go to something else. I'll be there to help the newbies, the people who are scared to death of all this tech, those who, like me, come with the desire, but not the knowledge of how to dive in, and I can just encourage them to do that, because, hey, I've done it. And it's not as scary as it seems. Really.

Sigh. I could add a #3 on there. And really, I need let's pretend there was room, and I wrote "goal #3" on my currently card. Let's pretend it says Eat Better and Get in Shape...or at least START. Yep. I will admit, it was a bad weekend, I didn't drink as much water as I should, and I sure did not eat healthy foods...add some hormonal shifts over the weekend, and, well, let's just say it was an adventure prying my wedding ring off earlier today, and I have not yet tried to put it back on...So, yeah.

That's it. That's my September Currently. If I was good, I'd give ya a lot more photos. Yep. But I'm lazy, and hey, I still need to go pick out my clothes for tomorrow, so I guess I'll be off...and try to be back tomorrow with an update on the first day of school!


(p.s. I'll be doing my love-leaving on three blogs tomorrow...there is no way I can focus tonight...but if you are one of those three blogs, don't worry! I haven't forgotten you, and you are certainly on my must-visit list!)