Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Show Us Some Bloglovin' Giveaway

I've been in denial. I've put off switching. I've made faces every time I've logged in and seen the reminder that my beloved Google Reader is going away. The big day is almost here though and I have to accept that.

You have probably heard by now that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Well, Google Reader may be going away, but I don't want YOU to go away, so we hope that you will consider following my blog through bloglovin!  I know that change is I thought I might sweeten it up for you a little bit!

I am doing a giveaway for all of my fabulous followers that take the leap and switch over to bloglovin.  You may have already switched over!  In that case, this will be an easy entry!

If you have not yet switched or are not following my blog through bloglovin, then there are a few easy steps to follow.  You can go to the sidebar (that's the column on the right over there that shows  followers) and you can click the button that says Follow this Blog with bloglovin.  Or, you can go into the Rafflecopter below and click the link in the first entry, and that will take you to this blog on bloglovin.

You will need to set up an account with bloglovin so that you can follow me.  Please be sure to leave your bloglovin username in the Rafflecopter entry.

If you want to go ahead and move all of the blogs you follow from Google over, you can go to this link and it will take you through the super easy steps.  BUT, please go to my bloglovin link and make sure that you are following me through bloglovin.  To be sure, make sure that the blue button at the top of my bloglovin page has been clicked (it should be gray with the word following- if it's blue, please click it to follow!)

So, if you follow  by bloglovin, please enter my giveaway!!  I will be picking 2 WINNERS and each winner will get their choice of 2 UNITS FROM MY TpT STORE!

  get the InLinkz code

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five for Friday


Thursday night was the VIP reception at the Marzano Conference. Unlike the presenters reception I was actually invited and dressed appropriately this time. (Click here for that story)

We expected a large group of teachers to be recognized. It turns out that the team of five from our school were the only five teachers able to attend the reception. (The other team was from Arizona and did not travel.)


We got autographed books/certificates and mingled with the real VIPs. It was a surprisingly fun evening. We met a principal from Australia, talked movies with Bob Marzano, and were treated like stars.

Two of the teachers from our group have videos currently being used for LSI training. We did not know that until the trip. The two teachers kept getting stopped and called by name by people who had watched their video in training sessions. It was like walking around with movie stars.

LSI has lots of video recorded, but we didn’t know what it was being used for until now. (Other than the research study.) There were pictures of our kids in the promotional catalog and clips from our classrooms on the video montage at the end of the conference.

My daughter told everyone that I was going out of town for a concert. She is only three. I had to convince her day care teachers that a concert would be more fun, but it was really a conference for work!

I am still researching technology for the STEAM lab next year. A lot of the companies I am looking at will be at ISTE 2013 in San Antonio next week. I would LOVE to be there myself! I have a little bit of conference envy. I’m tempted to ask if the school would pay for a virtual attendance registration. 

I’ve already reached that point in the summer where I am panicked that summer is moving by too quickly! There is still so much I want to do! I’m going to make a summer bucket list tomorrow. What are you hoping to do this summer?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What Not to Wear

I’m in Orlando for the Marzano Conference with a team from school. We arrived last night. Several members of our team are presenting, so they had a presenters reception last night. My friend and I are just attending so we walked over to register for the conference. We were only planning to register and maybe walk next door for dinner.

We walked in and were immediately pulled into the reception area by some of the conference staff we’ve worked with doing the video case study. I was wearing jeans. My friend was wearing capri pants. We were mortified!

Then we were introduced to Dr. Marzano and Michael Toth.

The rest of our group was dressed for the reception. We were not. We crashed the presenters reception and were not even dressed for it! They tried to take a group picture, but we refused.

I’m hoping not to completely embarrass myself today!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Look what I found

I sent out an e-mail last week to some parents at school asking for help in my new room. I have not yet finished packing up my old room, but I need to clear out enough space in the new room to put my boxes and such.

The two moms who showed up this morning were awesome. We got a lot done in a short amount of time. There is a lot to go through. I found ink pens used for calligraphy. I found supplies to do wood burning. The moms found a receipt for ribbon purchased in 1970.

As we started to clear out the old cabinets that I am getting rid of I started to get nervous about the space. There are lots of cabinets and drawers in the new room, but there is a lot of “stuff” to deal with as well.

Then I found it.


Okay so I knew it was there, but this closet had been locked. I didn’t have the key, but I figured it was the same as the tiny little closet next to it. I finally got it opened today.


It is huge.


It needs a lot of work. I’ve already gotten rid of the broken plastic bins in the center. It made my day though to find it! I have a big job ahead of me, but knowing I actually have storage space and supplies is a huge help!


This morning I also covered another teacher’s class. The students were supposed to make observations about the things they see outside. We were out for about five minutes when we saw this:


It was pretty neat. It is not often that you observe the Goodyear Blimp flying right overhead during a science lesson!


I’ve been researching lots of options for next year. I am looking for feedback on Gaggle and eChalk. Does your school use these services? Thoughts? Experiences? Likes/dislikes? Thanks!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Five for Friday: Summertime

Even though school is out, I’m still working. Friday has not lost its appeal! (Edited to add: I was so tired last night I fell asleep working on this post. It guess that goes to show that some things don’t change!)

I am teaching drama in our afternoon enrichment camp at school. I’ve done this for the last 4 or 5 years. We call it drama, but I really do mostly songs and games. I usually do stick puppets around week three just to mix things up a little. It is easy, fun, and the pay is good.
The biggest shock is always the kindergarteners. They are really soon-to-be- kindergarteners. This year we have several with summer birthdays, so they are only 4 right now. I usually don’t take too much notice, but next year I will be teaching K-5. It is going to be quite different!
One of the littlest girls reminds me so much of my own daughter. One of the other teachers said the same to me today, so I guess I’m not the only one who thinks so. This little girl has started calling me the “Drama Queen.” Two summers ago I was very pregnant with my son. Another pint-sized camper called me “Drama Mama.” Gotta love it!

My husband usually puts me to shame with gift giving. This year I bought him something he has wanted for years. He is like a child playing with it. I’m having fun just watching him!

Next week I am going to the Marzano Conference. Due to my participation in the case study filming this year, I am considered a “special guest.” We were told that means that we are going to an extra event with all the VIPs. Before the school year was out they also mentioned that their writer was going to interview each of the five of us from my school who took part. We didn’t think much of it. The liaison we work with said it would just be a few questions.

Last week the five of us got an e-mail from the writer. They have set aside a room and cameras to film the interview. We already e-mailed to ask about the kinds of questions to expect. I was filmed 10 times this year - four lessons, three coaching sessions, pre/post interviews for my formal observation, and a Common Core planning session.

I worked really hard this year not to duplicate outfits. I didn’t realize the planning meeting was going to be filmed and I repeated a blue sweater. My biggest problem is that my “nice” clothes are dresses. I am a dress kind of girl. For filming you have to wear a microphone. Microphones work much better with pants or skirts.

I have a couple of gift cards to spend so I am going to try to find the time to pick out something new before I go. If we do this project again next year I’m going to need a new wardrobe!

I made a rough plan for my room next year. Now that school is out I’ve had a chance to dig around the new room some. I’m turning the art room into a STEAM Lab. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)

STEAM Lab Layout

This is NOT to scale. I’m not that good. On the far left are the built in counter/cabinets/shelves/sinks. I haven’t decided on the shape of tables yet, but the brown tables will be for iPad and art projects.
I’m looking at rugs. I found several here that I have been looking at.

The polka dot thing is this cabinet:


The purple rectangles in the bottom left are some of the same cabinets in purple that look only slightly better than the before picture. I have plans for them!

The blue tables will have iMacs on them. They won’t be blue either. My dad and stepmom helped me measure things out and pick out tables to fit the space.

The big problem is I haven’t decided where to put my desk. The best place would be in front of the gate where the kiln is stored, but that doesn’t sound safe. (Though I won’t be using the kiln that often.) We’ll see how it goes!

I had 5 things picked out last night, but I’ve forgotten the fifth. Today was a lazy day around the house. I cleaned the kitchen. We went to Costco for a chicken. Nothing worthy of being my fifth item.
Instead I’ll end with a question: How does your school deal with saving/turning in electronic student work? I read a blog about first graders turning in assignments through Drop Box, but I didn’t get an answer yet about how that works. Suggestions? Ideas?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Classroom Library

I’m sitting my my classroom four days into packing up. It is a SLOW process! I got overwhelmed and decided to start in my classroom library. I should probably have started at my desk and teacher book shelf, but I decided I needed to feel like I ‘d accomplished something before I headed that way. I’ve been in this room for nine years! Thankfully I have a month of mornings to get it done!

I saw Jessica’s Tricks of the Trade theme for the day was Classroom Library Organization.

My library was showing its age. Next year I will be in the STEAM Lab, so many of my favorite books are getting packed away for the future. 

I found a resource last year that I wanted to use. I dabbled with it, but did not get to use it properly. I shared it at a conference for pre-service teachers.


It is called Book Source Classroom Organizer. I originally found the link through Pinterest. I signed up and found it to be as good as promised.


You do not have to have a smart device to use the site, but that is my favorite feature! They also recently set up a school portal for use in a resource room.

I didn’t fully implement it in my classroom last year because my library needed work. If I’d had was starting from scratch I would not have a second thought about using it! 

Jessica also asked about reading logs. I am not really a big fan of reading logs myself, but the rest of my team used them so I felt like I had to do so myself. 

This year I put my reading log online and my kids LOVED the change. I had dabbled with Edmodo the year before. My students think it is just like Facebook. Talk about engaging! At the beginning of the year we took a vote. They could choose to do a paper reading log or try it out online.


Using the assignment feature on Edmodo, I would write the instructions for the reading log. Students would then have to log onto Edmodo at home and type their response to what they read. I did tell students that anyone unable to log in at home could handwrite it and type it at school. No one took me up on it. Because Edmodo has apps, students were able to complete their reading log use phone and tablets.


I also used the Spelling City app through Edmodo to replace my paper spelling packet. I could easily track the assignments. I could comment on reading logs from any computer without needed to sort through a pile of papers. On Spelling City students got instant feedback.


The added benefit was typing. I’ve heard that the PARCC test will require students as young as third grade to type a written response to something that they have read. That sounds a bit scary, but my students have been practicing that all year long.


(I pulled the slides from a couple of presentations I made earlier this year. I am procrastinating enough by posting instead of packing!)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

“THE” Pencil Sharpener

Now that summer is here I’ve been playing catch up. I am cleaning out and packing up 9 years worth of classroom. It is going to take me all summer!

Back in April I got a package in the mail. I was SO excited when THE pencil sharpener came. I’d been reading about this sharpener for months.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to use it hen I took it out of the box. I was disappointed so I took to the internet. I watched this video.


Once I realized that I didn’t need the clamp, I was a sharpening fool. I sharpened every pencil I could find.

I have a manual sharpener in my classroom. After years of an electric sharpener graveyard, I made the switch. Instead of buying a new sharpener each year, I buy 2-3 replacement blades.
I compared the Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener to my old sharpener. The results are pretty easy to see.


The sharpened pencils look so sharp that I thought it was too good to be true. I was sure that they would break. The proof is in the pudding. Here are the pencils after a session of the FCAT.


In four days of testing we did not have a single broken pencil. In ten years of administering standardized tests, that is the first time I’ve made it without a broken pencil.


Bottom line? This pencil sharpener lives up to the hype. I love it.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I’m Back!

School ended for the students Wednesday at noon. I was in the car and on the way to Disney by 2pm. My dad was in Orlando for a conference and had asked if we would drive up for a couple of days. I’d initially said no because of the end of school. He called back and asked if the Irishman could drive up with the kids even if I couldn’t come. I talked to my principal who gave me the okay. She actually shooed me out the door on Wednesday afternoon.


Trying to get everything together to leave town on the last day of school was more than a little hectic, but it was wonderful to have a few days right after school to spend with the family!

I’m working afternoons at the enrichment camp at school starting Monday. I will be spending the mornings before camp packing up my classroom of 9 years and setting up my new room as a STEAM lab. My little break made it feel like summer was really here!