Thursday, October 30, 2014

Finding Your Teacher Voice on Nov. 4th

Unless you live under a rock (ok... or stay away from the internet), you've seen, read, heard about all the bad publicity teachers and the overall educational realm are receiving these days...

Whether's it an influential and well established magazine or a state's governor, it seems people are on an educational witch hunt and teachers are being burned at the stake!

Well... I'm here to tell you... I think it's time for us teachers to find and use our "Teacher Voice"

You know its power..  One little change in your voice and it can...

Turn wiggly/giggle lines into pin straight and perfect order. 
Show the dismay of an offense without the raise of a single decibel. 
Bring 25 out of control five-year-olds to a screeching halt. 

We know the power of our voice in the classroom. Now it's time to find our voice in the political arena.  

It's time for teachers to stand up for what is right. 
It't time for teachers to help bring about change. 

Yes... there is a lot wrong with today's education. I spent the past 4 days with educators from around the country and was appalled to hear how some teachers are treated  and what we're being blamed for in certain states. 

Yes... there's a lot "broken" with our educational system. 

But why is all the blame being placed on teachers? Why are we allowing the blame to be place on our shoulders? Why are we allowing this "broken" educational system to continue? 

Teachers,  let's put away the excuses and work together to change this. I know you are only one person. Very rarely can one person make a dent, but if we form a united front, we can help improve education. Who better understands education than an educator?

So how can we make sure our "teacher's voice" is heard?  It's a simple answer, really. All we have to do is make a little bit of spare time on November 4th and VOTE! 

Now, I am by no means a political person. (I am actually a registered Independent.) I am not going to stand here  and tell you how to vote on your state's top issues, but I do want to urge 
you to actually vote. 

Take the time to learn more about the different amendments being proposed. The only thing worse than not voting at all is not taking the time to be an educated voter!  I remember one year, in the county I teach, the half penny sales tax was up for extension.  Voters only saw money being drained from their pockets (.005 worth) and voted it down. They didn't see how this nominal tax was supporting local education in the form of extra curricular activities and support staff. Moral of the story? Read about the different amendments and how they will affect your community! 

Also, take the time to research candidates. Try to understand their view of education. Make sure it matches your beliefs. Make an effort to watch your local debates if available (What else could you do while you grade all those "rigorous" papers? ) 

One teacher's voice may not be heard over a crowd, but ALL of our voices? That's a powerful force to be reckoned with. 

One that will surely make an impact. Or at the very least, cause a few misbehaving bureaucrats to  straighten up! ;) 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Happy Tuesday! I just had to pop in today to share a few details of my AMAZING
 trip to THE BIG CITY with you!

Now this little getaway was part girl's trip, part work trip, and partly just a fun excused to get to New York City. Either way, I had a blast with my partners in crime, Tamara from Mrs. Russel's Room and Tammy from The Resourceful Apple.

 Here we are in total disgruntled mode because of all our delays leaving! After a long day of school, we just wanted to to get off the ground and start our vacation.

But all those delays were a thing of the past once we arrived at hotel La Tamara's Mama!

How cute are these goody bags she made for us?

We had a blast exploring NYC. I was most in awe of the reverence shown at the 9-11 Memorial.

In stark comparison, Times Square was just as hussling and bussling as I thought it would be!

I also had a chance to meet up with some super sweet fellow teacher bloggers! 

 Sorry the pic's a little weird! Recongnize anyone?
From Top Left to bottom right: Melissa from First Grade Smiles, CaseyJane from WigglingScholars, Tammy from The Resourceful Apple, Amanda from Mrs. Richardson's Class, Tamara from Mrs. Russell's Room and of course... ME! :)

Later in the weekend, I had a chance to attend a brunch at BrainPop!
Talk about a fancy office! 

 Here's me and the girls with Andrew and Angela (The author of The Cornerstone for Teachers) from BrainPop. If you've never heard of this company, seriously go check them out! You will never teacher the same way again! 

While at the brainpop brunch I got to meet THE Sue from Science from Kids! WOW! 

We had a blast learning more about all the new and improved features BrainPop has been working on! (The food helped too... #youknowteachers)  

Yesterday, I had a chance to visit the TeachersPayTeachers office in New York. 

After chatting a bit with the staff...

like TpT's Amy!

We had a chance to video conference with Adam, TpT's new CEO. Don't worry, we shared our general dislike for TpT's Search feature, among-st other things... 

I even had time to squeeze in a little sight seeing too! 

Hello Chrysler Building!

What a fun trip! It reminded me why I started blogging in the first place. To have a chance to collaborate with teachers from all over the country! I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Beezus and Ramona and Finding a Buddy

Whew folks! Is is really only one week until Halloween, cuz I could SWEAR my kiddos are chowing down on candy everyday before they come to school. 
They are keeping me on my toes, that's for sure! 

I thought I'd pop in and share a quick little close reading lesson I did with my kiddos using  a timeless classic!  

It all started one afternoon when I was digging around in my team's resource pod looking for a new chapter book to read with my thirds. I am blessed to be at a school that has put so much money into books as my pod is literally ceiling to floor shelves of chapter books. I wanted something that the kiddos could relate too, have a good story line, and have *just* enough humor to keep 'em interested.

That's when I found a whole class set of this gem!

I seriously hadn't seen this book since I was probably in the 4th grade! I knew I had to snatch it up! This is a Beverly Cleary CLASSIC. It had everything I needed for our close reading lesson:
 quality literature, solid story line, relate-able characters,and just enough humor to keep everyone interested!  

You can check out this book and so many other fabulous Beverly Cleary books here on Amazon.

To started off our close reading lesson, I pulled up a clip from "D.W.'s Imaginary Friend" from the Arthurs series on PBS.

Such a great way to illustrate the strained relationship that often happens between older and younger siblings! We discussed how Arthur felt about his sister during in the beginning of the clip and how he had changed at the end. Then at their table groups, students discussed how they felt about their younger siblings. If they didn' t have a younger sibling, when it was their turn to speak, I had them share how they think they would feel having a younger brother or sister.

On the heels of that discussion, I passed out copies of "Beezus and Ramona" and gave a very brief description of the story and the characters. Then we jumped in and read the first chapter.

While the students read, we discussed the word, "exasperating".  This word is used a lot in the book, I knew it was a perfect chance to stretch our vocabulary. Our first discussion of this word was mostly about what it meant. As we progressed through the book, we studied by Beezus felt that way about Ramona and why the author choose that word over "annoying".

On day two of our close reading, we jumped into chapter two and learned more about these two sisters. After finishing the chapter, we created this chart to compare the two girls.

Then we made some connections to the text and compared ourselves to Ramona and Beezus. Were they more like Beezus or Ramona?

Their answers were just too cute!

Of course most of my kids identified more with Beezus, but their reasons were precious!

For our third and fourth days of our close read, we used my Literary Discussion cards to discuss the text more.

I loved how the kiddos used the text as a reference in defending their opinions to the questions! Using this structure provided a meaningful activity after reading, but not always having to something big and formal. You can grab these here in my TpT store.

On our last day of the close read it was time for students to share their opinion of little siblings. To complete the assignment, students had to answer the question and provide at least three pieces of evidence from from the story. Students could also draw upon their own personal experiences to support their position. I took this as a writing grade.

You can grab this little writing response sheet here for free!

In addition to all that sibling fun, I also implemented a new way to find a buddy.

In years past, I've always allowed to students to find their own buddies with the understanding that we could work with everyone and anyone. This year my kiddos really struggled with finding a buddy, so to take out the headache, I created this buddy cheat sheets. I chose two of their buddies, and allowed the students choose the other two. Now whenever we need a buddy, I just say, find you summer buddy and boom we're ready to work! You can grab this here for free, too!

Now it's time for me to pack! I can't wait to share with you where I'm headed this weekend!