Thursday, July 7, 2016

Postcards Anyone?

Sshhhhh.... I know.  It's the middle of summer for most of us. That doesn't stop my teacher brain from spinning though. The only way to stop it is to do something 'teacher-y'. Thus, the reason I'm posting!

My students always love doing postcard exchanges.  The new school year is just around the corner and I've started my search for a new exchange to join. I've actually found a few, but the California slot always seems to be taken!  So, I've decided to be a bit proactive and have started a NEW postcard exchange just so I can claim California! Ta-Da!  I would love to have you join me!



What's in it for you?  Just 50 fabulous postcards to share with your class from across this great country of ours (Washington, D.C. is included)!  Think about all the places they'll see and all the things they'll learn!  I post a map of the U.S. on the wall.  As we receive our postcards, we put them up around the edge of the map with a string attached from postcard to state.  Did I mention that the kids LOVE this?

What do you have to do?  First, go to the Life in Room 15's Elementary Postcard Exchange to see if your state is available.  If it is, just fill out the required information!  If you're from a country other than the U.S., feel free to join in. Just add your info at the bottom of the doc.

What will you need? Obviously, you're going to need 50 postcards and 50 stamps!  My students love to donate both. I just remind them that the postcard has to be related to our state or our local area.

Then what?  When you're ready to send your postcards (save the link to the Google Doc!), write your school's name, your grade level, and some interesting facts about your state or hometown.  Pop the postcards in the mail by the end of September if you can.

Finally... wait patiently for the mailman to arrive!




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Beginnings!

I was just about to crawl into bed for some much needed sleep when I thought, "Hmm, I'm about to start a new adventure tomorrow.  This might be a good time to get back in touch with my little blog."  So here I am, sitting on the couch when better judgement tells me I should be hugging my pillow.  It's okay though, I promised myself I'd keep this short!

After 16 years at the same school, I've decided to make a change this year.  I've moved to a new site. I've been eyeing this school for years now.  I've always been drawn to it because it is the only K-8 school in our district and I love that concept! I've often thought about how nice it must be to not send your fifth graders off to be devoured by Middle School wolves.  Over the years, there were so many reasons (most of them rather good) and excuses (most of them rather lame) for not transferring school sites.  This past year, however, was particularly trying for me...not just professionally, but personally as well.  At the beginning of last year, I had heard about the potential for an open fifth grade position at my dream school and, as the year from hell progressed, it was the one glimmer of hope I held on to in an effort to survive until June.

When the new position was finally posted, I was more than ready to make the move.  The only regret I had in leaving my current position was that I was giving up the opportunity to continue mentoring my daughter. We've worked on the same grade level team for the last two years and it has been an experience I will always cherish. As you can imagine, leaving that behind was a difficult decision, but I knew the time had come for me to make a change.  The angst I felt in choosing to leave was short lived. Not long after I accepted my new position, my daughter found her dream job at my new site as a full time reading intervention teacher.  The stars had obviously aligned for us for a second time!

So here I sit...on the eve of my new adventure and I just had to blog about it.  New school, new colleagues, new faces...I couldn't possibly be more excited!  Bring on the new year!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Coming Up for Air and Taking a Walk!

We're almost at that 6 week mark! You know, that point when you finally feel like you can come up for air?  Well, I finally feel like I'm managing to do more than just keep my head above water despite jumping into Common Core.  Week #6 also means it's time for goal setting conferences and progress reports.  The good news: with a week of early release days ahead of me, lesson planning was a breeze!  Now I just have to get motivated to work on those progress reports!

We had an amazing surprise this week!  About a year ago, I wrote a post about The Walking Classroom.  I was lucky enough to receive a donated set of materials. The Walking Classroom is a great program that combines standards aligned academic content with physical exercise through the use of WalkKits.  The WalkKits are personal audio players that are pre-loaded with an incredible variety of educational and entertaining podcasts.  My students love our Walking Classroom time!  Last week, I received an email from Laura Fenn, the founder of The Walking Classroom.  She said she would be in the Bay area and wanted to know if she could stop by to visit our classroom.  What?!?!?  How cool is that?  My students were equally thrilled!

Laura showed up on Thursday as promised and my students were instantly starstruck.  We powered up our WalkKits and headed out the door for a jaunt.  My students were all smiles as they walked with Laura and learned about interjections.  After our walk, Laura graciously answered a million questions.  While our time together was short, my students are sure to remember the day for years to come.  Go check out The Walking Classroom.  Rumor has it that Connecticut is one of the few states without WalkKits.  If you're a 4th or 5th grade teacher there, contact The Walking Classroom.  I hear your odds of getting donated materials are better than average!

Time for a walk.

Question and answer time with Mrs. Fenn!


Wishing all of you a restful Sunday!  




Coming Up for Air, Taking a Walk, and a New Adventure!

We're almost at that 6 week mark! You know, that point when you finally feel like you can come up for air?  Well, I finally feel like I'm managing to do more than just keep my head above water despite jumping into Common Core.  Week #6 also means it's time for goal setting conferences and progress reports.  The good news: with a week of early release days ahead of me, lesson planning was a breeze!  Now I just have to get motivated to work on those progress reports!

We had an amazing surprise this week!  About a year ago, I wrote a post about The Walking Classroom.  I was lucky enough to receive a donated set of materials. The Walking Classroom is a great program that combines standards aligned academic content with physical exercise through the use of WalkKits.  The WalkKits are personal audio players that are pre-loaded with an incredible variety of educational and entertaining podcasts.  My students love our Walking Classroom time!  Last week, I received an email from Laura Fenn, the founder of The Walking Classroom.  She said she would be in the Bay area and wanted to know if she could stop by to visit our classroom.  What?!?!?  How cool is that?  My students were equally thrilled!

Laura showed up on Thursday as promised and my students were instantly starstruck.  We powered up our WalkKits and headed out the door for a jaunt.  My students were all smiles as they walked with Laura and learned about interjections.  After our walk, Laura graciously answered a million questions.  While our time together was short, my students are sure to remember the day for years to come.  Go check out The Walking Classroom.  Rumor has it that Connecticut is one of the few states without WalkKits.  If you're a 4th or 5th grade teacher there, contact The Walking Classroom.  I hear your odds of getting donated materials are better than average!

Time for a walk.

Question and answer time with Mrs. Fenn!


Wishing all of you a restful Sunday!  




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Snapshots

Ugh. summer vacation is half over...no, wait...there's still almost a full MONTH left!  There, that's better! Perspective is everything, right?  I'm linking up with Run, Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for Saturday Snapshots for a peek at my week.


The fireworks on the 4th of July took on new meaning this year.  My stepmother-in-law passed away on the 4th.  Her name was Angel and she truly was one.  I'd like to think that the skies lit up that night to celebrate her life and illuminate her journey.


Wine club pick up time!  I belong to two clubs.  One winery is in Sonoma and the other is in Napa.  We made Sunday our 'pick-up' day.  Of course, if you're going to pick up your wine, you might as well sit for a spell and do a wine and chocolate pairing.

Rutherford Ranch Winery

Looking at the calendar and realizing that a month of vacation has gone by prompted my daughter and I to plan a little local adventure.  Our first stop was Muir Woods.  I love Muir Woods.  Walking through those towering redwoods is a bit humbling.  For as small as we humans are, we are the guardians of some pretty amazing places.  



Tuesday found me poolside, resting my tired toes.  


On Wednesday, we jumped on the Angel Island ferry out of Tiburon.  Many folks just think of Angel Island as the Ellis Island of the west coast, but that's just one piece of its history.  If you're interested, you can read more about the island here.





I used the pano feature on my phone to capture this view of the San Francisco Bay.  To the left is the Bay Bridge that connects Oakland and the East Bay to San Francisco.  San Francisco is in the center of the picture.  To the right is the Golden Gate Bridge.

It's nice to have friends who are always willing to grab their camera and head out on a photo jaunt with you.  Thursday found us just across the Carquinez Strait in Martinez and Port Costa.

The Martinez shoreline.

There's not much green this time of year.

Port Costa

Apparently, you can only act out your dreams on the weekends?



This is the town's wishing tree.  There's a bucket filled with pens and tags.
People hang their wishes on the tree for all to read.  

One of the wishes we found.

I loved the randomness of this.  

This morning I woke up to this:  

This was the most expensive project I've ever posted and I was more than a little worried about it being funded.  Kudos to my amazing students who earned $1000 for the project by participating in code writing.  Most of the remaining funding came from donations via the Caring Classroom community.   If you're a DonorsChoose fanatic like I am, go take a peek at this incredible group.  They've donated over $70,000 to projects like mine.

So that was my week in pictures.  Today's adventure:  cleaning the house and the Wild Ones.

Remember to link up with Miss Nelson's Saturday Snapshots!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Meet Up!

So this is a record.  It's still June and I'm posting AGAIN!  This MUST be summer vacation.  Let me start by pointing out that blonde over there on the right.  She's the reason I'm sporting a sunburn.  I decided to play around with my Art Studio app this morning and wasn't paying attention to how long I was sitting in the sun.  Ouch! I feel obligated to disclose some information here:  I look nothing like her.  The blonde hair is now graying (long, but graying), there are a few extra pounds hanging around, and my feet aren't that small.  But I created her in the image of what I would want to look like if I was a piece of clipart.

This is the real me.....

I thought I'd join in with The Teaching Tribune's Monday Meet Up.  I know, this is Week 4 for everyone else, but it's Week 1 for me and I'm pretty excited about it!


Here are a few completely random tidbits about me.  



I'm curious, what's the most interesting food item you've ever eaten?  

Be sure to head over to The Teaching Tribune to read some entertaining tidbits about your fellow bloggers.  


Friday, June 20, 2014

Reading in the Wild: Chapter 1

I know, two posts in one day.  I'm sorry.  I just had to link up with Ideas by Jivey's book study of Reading in the Wild.



I just finished reading the first chapter, "Wild Readers Dedicate Time to Read", and had to respond.  It felt like coming home.  Our school has gotten so far away from giving students the chance to read independently and it's made my heart sad.  Readers' workshop has gone by the wayside.  Guided/leveled reading groups, reading intervention pull-outs and push-ins, and fidelity to the curriculum, while all have their place, have  pushed that sacred time right out the door.  It's gotten to the point where most teachers feel guilty if admin walks in to find kids reading silently at desks, under desks, stretched out on the carpet or snuggled into a comfy little nook.  Imagine that.  Having to feel guilty when you have 34 kids fully immersed in a book of their choosing?  What a horrible thing...kids reading for the sheer joy of reading!

I will admit, that over the years, it has been difficult not to succumb to the pressure.  In Room 24, we still have Fall in Love with Your Book Time for 20 minutes when we return from the library.  After FILWYBT is over, students are invited to give a quick book talk to share first impressions of their new reading material. My students know to always have the book they are currently smitten with on their desks for when their other assignments are complete and we sponge up any extra minutes between preps, lunch, and recess by opening up those same books. They know that this is our covert independent reading time.  Each and EVERY day, I use the last 10-15 minutes for a read aloud.  Shhhhh!

This coming year, we're jumping into common core and new curriculum with both feet.  I'm not sure how it will all work, but I'm determined to find time each day to dedicate to the type of reading Miller describes in Chapter 1.

"When students read together every day, they forge strong bonds though shared reading experiences that help them define themselves as members of a reading tribe."  I love this!  I want to do whatever I can to help my students become a tribe of wild readers this coming year.

Like others who have already responded to Chapter 1, I love the idea of having a book on hand at all times for 'reading emergencies'.  I usually carry my iPad mini with me for just such occasions.  On our recent camping trip, I was chastised a bit for bringing a piece of technology into the wild.  I quickly pointed out that it was my 'book' and not an iPad mini at all.  Having finished my current book half way through the trip, I was more than a bit upset when I realized I hadn't downloaded the next book on my list!  With no internet connection, I was in a true reading emergency! You can bet I'll be more prepared next time.