Monday, July 31, 2017

[Almost] Back to School

It's crazy to think that this is my last real week of summer break. I don't technically begin until August 22nd, but I have a training next Monday and we get access to our schools next week so I will essentially be back to work as of Monday. 

Along with the change to my new school, we are getting three new curriculum programs! (I guess it's a great thing I agreed to stay in third...learning three new curriculum programs for two grades simultaneously sounds pretty awful.) We are switching from Reading Street to Journeys in reading, from (the very old version of) Everyday Math to Go! Math and from FOSS kits (assuming we had any and they were stocked) to the Discovery Education Tech Book.

Years and years third year I was at Former School, I piloted the tech book and it was awesome. It's different now of course because now it is all aligned with NGSS. Plus my new school is 1:1 iPads so we will be able to do groups and modules and whatnot that I didn't have the ability to do before. I really enjoyed the lessons and activities in that program when I piloted it. I am NOT a science person. I didn't have a single class in undergrad that taught me how to teach science to kids. So I've always just flown by the seat of my pants with it...but the tech book is laid out so well and now that I do have 1:1 devices, it will be awesome because the students will be able to do the simulations and activities right on their devices. I especially liked the program because it was a nice mix of online simulations and paper/pencil explorations. They need to get hands-on when possible.

Next week Monday I have a full day training on the new edition of the Tech Book. I am super excited about it...which is great since I have mentioned I am so not a science person. I'm really stoked to have a science curriculum that will make science more enjoyable to teach and hopefully for my kids to learn.

Next Tuesday I am moving into my new building. We get access on Monday but I'll be at the training all day. The Husband took two hours off on Tuesday so he can help me move in. We are literally going to load up all of my crap stuff into the back of his truck and onto his trailer and haul it all there. With his help and using the trailer, we can get it all moved in one trip, rather than the 20 trips it would take me to move it all in my tiny car. Then he can go to work and I can spend the rest of the day organizing, cleaning and making the room presentable. 

Tuesday is really the only free day I have next week so I plan to be there as long as I can (typically we can be there from 8-4 on non-school days once we have access). My game plan is first of course to get everything moved in. Then I will spend time deciding on furniture arrangement. That's huge for me. I need to decide where I want my class library and my teacher area (this is especially important because I need a space for not only me but also my intern). Once the furniture is arranged, I can move boxes and materials to their respective spaces and then unpack one section at a time (i.e. all library books will be moved over to the library, all teacher desk things will be put by the teacher area, small group materials/supplies will be moved to the small group table). I find when I am systematic like that and tackle one area at a time, I get SO MUCH MORE DONE and it doesn't feel as overwhelming. 

Really if I can just get my furniture arranged to my liking, I'll call Tuesday productive. My new room is VERY long compared to my almost square room I've had previously, so it may be a bit of a job to decide how to arrange everything. Plus, I have no idea what furniture will be left in the room. I plan to set up for 30 even though I am only slated to have 25 (but who knows who has left or enrolled since then, you know?). I'd rather be prepared for extra friends, just in case :)

It would be a super awesome bonus if I arrive and my math and reading curriculum materials are there. I'd like to at least get a peek at what I will be teaching this year. 

In the meantime, this week I am attending a virtual math PD and defending my dissertation proposal (eeek!). So I will be plenty busy this week too. If I play my cards right, I can spend the one day at school next week moving in and getting some things arranged and then spend one more day getting everything how I want it so I can still enjoy some time off before we actually go back. 

I am excited to start this new adventure in a new school. I think it will be just the change I need. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Short Vacation {Pics}

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I am a glutton for punishment. I am ALWAYS busy. Being a mom and teacher is busy enough but then I go and decide to get National Board Certification. Not even 7 months after finishing that, I decide to get my doctorate in Education. I am definitely crazy!

All of that busy stuff means I rarely, if ever, have time to just sit and relax. And usually I don't. During the rare times I don't have school work to do, I'm constantly reading for professional improvement or hanging with my fabulous grandson or doing something related to my job or personal aspirations. It is so very rare for me to go entirely off the grid.

I did just that on Tuesday. The Husband and I drove 6 hours north to Lake Superior on Monday. We stayed Monday and Tuesday night and came home yesterday. We packed a TON into our day and a half in the U.P. (Interestingly I had two people on facebook ask me what "U.P." stood for...they know I'm from Michigan. So now I'm curious if Michiganders are the only ones who say "U.P."? I also discovered people FROM Michigan don't know that if you live in the L.P. (lower peninsula) you're a troll because you live under the do these folks not know this?? :)

For a few years I had a real itch to get the hell out of Michigan and live somewhere else. I have lived here my entire life basically. My mom tells me we lived in Texas for 9 months when I was three. I don't count that because I don't remember it (although weirdly I do remember going to a weird watering hole was shocked I remembered because I was three!). Alas, all of the traveling I have done in the past two years has really helped to curb that desire to move. Good thing too since The Husband is never going to agree to least not until he retires. :| 

It is short trips like this one that make me so glad I live here though. Michigan is absolutely beautiful in the summer. We visited Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and were just blown away by the beauty. Monday we did the Pictured Rocks cruise tour and it was the perfect way to see all of the shoreline. Tuesday we went entirely off the grid (I seriously had zero cell service pretty much the entire day--it was awesome!) and hiked through the various trails back to some of the waterfalls. Gorgeous but tiring. (For the record, we clocked just under 12 miles! Much of that was hiking up through crazy tree root trails!) It was so fun though. Unfortunately it was just nasty and rainy Wednesday and we were so exhausted that we just drove home. I was kinda bummed because it would have been cool to do the Glass Bottom Shipwreck Boat Tour also but the lake was really choppy and we didn't want to chance it being cancelled. 

Alas, here are some pictures of our trips. [And to be fair, these photos DO NOT do this trip justice at all. So beautiful in person.]

This is a wide angle picture from Miner's Beach of the Lake Superior Shoreline. Absolutely gorgeous!

The picture below is part of the trail! This is mild. I don't think you'd believe me if I told you the stuff we climbed over and around and we were ON the trial! :)

But these beautiful waterfalls were the reward for all that climbing so it was worth it!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Self Control with BTS

I have joined a couple of Facebook groups for teachers and whew! These folks are SERIOUS about their back to school shopping! I'm overwhelmed looking at their purchases, ideas and indulgences. I can only imagine how brand new teachers in the group must be feeling. (I know some are feeling overwhelmed because they have said so.) 

First there is the back to school schedule. Some folks are back to school at the end of July. With kids! (What the what??) Some folks don't go back until end of August and don't see kids until after Labor Day. So depending upon where in the country a person is teaching, some folks are already setting up their classrooms and some of us are still basking in the lazy summer days. 

Second, it is not hard to get excited when someone else posts something they have purchased and their excitement is evident. 




Putting things in all caps makes them seem even more exciting, so the excitement spills through the screen to every reader and suddenly WE are excited too. I have to have that {whatever it is} now too! 

Don't get me started on Amazon Prime Day. Holy cow! Someone mentioned they spent $800 on Prime Day and hoped their hubby didn't notice. (That is, in and of itself, a whole other rant.) 

So yes, I understand. It is overwhelming yet exciting to see everyone else getting excited about BTS sales and deals and seeing other people's fabulous classrooms coming together.

I totally get it. I've been there. I've been very guilty of buying those random things in the Dollar Spot because, well, they are adorable and I have to have it. Nevermind that most of that stuff has sat unused for YEARS because I never did figure out what to do with it. 

This year, I have found my self control. Perhaps it is because I'm changing buildings and had to go through every single thing in my classroom and clean it out (while simultaneously realizing how much STUFF I have). Perhaps it is because I'm older and wiser and realize that I don't NEED that stuff. Whatever the reason is, I have found my self control and I'm glad.

Don't get me wrong. I see those adorable light boxes and I want one too. But then I stop and think. What would I really use it for? How useful is it going to be when the students don't even notice that I changed the sign? Then the internal dialogue begins and I realize after the first week or so, the third graders likely WON'T notice and I'll have spent a ton of time and money for no good reason. So after letting it sit in my online cart for a couple of days, I have rationalized that I don't really need it, I've just been caught up in the excitement. So I get it out of there. 

That's how I've planned and paced myself this summer. I did purchase the Bazic pencil pouches I used last year and Ticonderoga pencils I've used forever, along with 30 bottles of 4 oz glue that were a steal at $1 each on Amazon. But I know I use those things. They are part of my instructional routine 180 days out of the year. Well worth the money. The only thing I have splurged on so far are these snack boxes from Dollar Tree. 

Lots of folks in the groups I'm part of have shared many ways they are using these snack boxes including for crayons and other supplies. Usually I have kids keep their crayons in the boxes they come in but let's be real, the cardboard breaks or rips after being pulled in and out of desks day after day. So I indulged. It's the only indulgence I'll make because I have tons of other things I can use the containers for (storing manipulatives and other small pieces needed for lessons for groups which makes it easier than trying to put things into plastic baggies). 

I still have to buy notebooks, crayons and folders. The only other indulgence will be a new class theme since I haven't actually bought one in several years and I'm moving to a new school. Otherwise that's it. 

Self control. I KNOW 90% of the things I have seen people sharing that they have purchased would just sit in my classroom collecting dust and/or wasting space. 

Before you buy everything...consider if it's actually useful and if it will be clutter or useful to your class. My theme materials are the ONLY thing that really doesn't have anything to do with instruction...I just like things to match :) 

Are you exhibiting self control this year or are you a big spender? :) 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

EdCamp Voice on Voxer (Part 4)

I am so super excited for EdCampVoice on Voxer again this weekend! From Friday July 7 at noon to noon on Saturday, July 8 it's an edcamp held entirely on Voxer! It's super fun and awesome and I learn so much each session!

In December 2015 I joined Voxer because I kept hearing about it and wanted to see what the fuss was. Then I heard about EdCampVoxer that occurred for the first time over that winter break. Oh my word! I was hooked from that moment forward. I have been a participant in each session since. Last summer I co-moderated a session on Student Centered Assessment. It was tons of fun and super informative.

This year I am moderating a group about Supporting Student Teachers. It spawned from a conversation I intercepted on Twitter about how best to support student teachers while they are student teaching. It's a small group so far but I expect to have more folks join in over the next few days.

If you are going to be student teaching or will be hosting a student teacher, we'd love to have you join us. Voxer is free and will explode your PLN like nobody's business! :)