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Change and the Top 5 Things I Learned This Year

.... and there is was. I loved my classroom. I loved my kids. I loved those things and they were great... But I wanted something even more than that. I wanted to be able to focus on reading with small groups of students at a time in order to understand their individual needs; to try to get a glimpse into why they struggled year after year, to be a source of encouragement, and ultimately to help them be a little better at reading and comprehending than before they'd ever met me. So... to do this- to go after what I wanted but had never had, I had to do some things I had never done. I had to leave my intimately cozy school where I truly considered each person there a part of an extended family unit. I had to load up 8 years worth of materials and teacher junk and haul it to a new school; and not just any school... to a MIDDLE school! The horror! I had always sworn I would never... COULD never teach in a junior high/middle school setting, and here I was scrambling over boxes and giv…
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True Confessions of Your Teacher

QUESTION:

If you were any animal, what would it be? 

While I would love to say a cheetah for its stealthy ability to run and its sleek body movement in the wild, the fact that I am a wood duck proved more accurately after a recent field trip to a Botanical Garden and boat ride on the bayou.
While I've gone with classes in the past on this same field trip, ridden this same boat through the bayou, and heard about the wood duck nesting boxes erected along the side of the bayou- I guess I had never really given much thought to the special nature of the baby wood duck and the mother duck who calls her babies to literally fall out of the wooden boxes since they are unable to fly.
I think the mother wood duck must feel like a teacher most days of her motherly life in her little nesting box. Why?
Because as a teacher I worry and fret about what I'm doing in the classroom to help my students be successful. Sometimes as a teacher you feel like your kids have automatic hearing they can turn o…

Fake Tweets Ethical?

Ok I admit it, I've been in a slump. Since life has had more distractions this school year I promised myself I wouldn't feel loser-ish over not making regular blog posts unless something just jumped out and grabbed me, thus feeling compelled to sit before the computer screen spending an hour or so pondering over the issue. (Yes.... I am a slowww writer.) So fast forward to this morning when I'm browsing through some Diigo links a friend posted. One that caught my eye was for Fodey's newspaper clipping generator. I like this one and have used it before personally- my children needed to know that throwing grapes at our Elf on a Shelf, Darby, was not appropriate and a danger to elves' health according to the "North Pole News"...
The next link listed was for Lemmetweetthatforyou. This site generates fake Tweets from any user name you type in. It uses their profile picture, their background from their Twitter page, and worst of all, you can type anything at all…

Being Reminded by My Annoyance

Ahhh... the Christmas Winter Break. Staying up late followed by closing the shades so we can sleep in the next morning, relishing in the fact that 5 AM will come and go and we will never know. I'm not sure about you and your family, but my family and I love the laziness of the Christmas Holidays. It wasn't until I caught myself becoming increasingly annoyed (...and often) that I realized while we were basking in the unstructured, late-morning routines, my son was missing some very crucial parts of his- and sadly, none of us realized it.

K's two main areas of struggles, as far as sensory processing go, are Vestibular and Proprioception. Our Vestibular system allows us to accurately use our vision, prepare our posture, maintain balance, plan our actions, move, calm ourselves, and regulate our behavior. When his is out of whack and his body feels he isn't receiving enough input, we notice he is on the go more. Not really running around, just aimlessly wandering around (usu…

Marshmallow Challenge and What We Learned

I heard about The Marshmallow Challenge at Region 5 Edcamp last year and knew I wanted to do it! Honestly I got a little excited at the thought of shoving as many marshmallows in my mouth as I could while chanting "chubby bunny" like we used to at youth camp, but then I found out this was a different kind of Marshmallow Challenge. 

The Marshmallow Challenge was created by Tom Wujec as a team building exercise that allows the participants the opportunities in collaboration, innovation, and creativity. It was discovered, however, that students were much better at this activity for several reasons. Learn more about the official Marshmallow Challenge HERE or see Wujec's TED talk HERE

I used the Marshmallow Challenge as a team-building exercise the first week of school. It was a fun way to see how students worked within a group, but also what strengths and weaknesses they brought to the table that could be used during the school year. I was delightfully surprised by the amoun…

When a Connected Educator Unplugs

If you had asked me last year, I would have happily told you that I am a connected educator. I thrived on making new connections with fellow educators who I could bounce ideas off of; hear about new things that are working in education and things that aren’t. I searched for classes I could connect my fifth graders to, broadening our learning experience as a collective learning community. It was where I felt most comfortable as an educator. And when life handed me lemons (as life has a tendency to do)- it was no big deal. I’d make lemonade and blissfully move on while adding sugar and stirring. I had the year down pat and felt my students were learning so much.
But then seemingly overnight I found myself making connections and connecting less and less…. And oddly- it didn’t bother me. Once the new school year started, I not only connected less, I finally just unplugged.
Period.
Lights off. Game over.
“Why?” you may ask… (and I did! I asked myself that same question… A LOT). I really did…

2014 Life Lessons Learned this Summer

Ms. Angelou said it best; and for this summer- I am thankful for life. 
As my summer wraps up, I'm left to reflect on what I've learned- which is to being thankful for the moments we are given, each one of them. So these are my top 2014 Life Lessons learned this Summer:
Grow your zones of comfort; push your boundaries... Being scared to do something is ok... normal, even; but when that fear overpowers your will to step out of the boundaries you set for yourself, you begin to limit your own effectiveness, defeating your power of growth.
Celebrate the moments of life; even in death... The mom of one of our students unexpectedly died toward the beginning of the summer. My heart ached for this young man; losing his mom at such a young age. My son was also a classmate of his this school year, so we (my son and I) attended the funeral for his mother. It was a beautiful service, but also a reminder that the kids we serve are not only our kids from August through May. Our lives are forev…