Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted Linky

I should be grading papers, but Flying into First Grade's Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party sounded like so much more fun!  So here goes...

This week it's the Noun Game. My favorite person, place, thing, and animal?  Hmmm....

Person:  I'd have to say my daughter.  She's one of the most creative people I know.  She and her roommate helped me make made some great posters for a special celebration we're having at school later this week.  They let me color the backgrounds of the letters they drew.  Even that was a stretch for my level of artistic ability.

My daughter recently completed a 5k with me.

Place:  My favorite place is the beach.  It doesn't really matter which one.  I love beaches.  There's just something special about standing at the water's edge.  I'm fortunate that I can walk a block and a half from my house to a small beach on the strait. 

My husband and grandbaby on our little beach.

Thing:  My favorite thing ties in nicely with my favorite place.  My favorite thing is my stand up paddle board.  I haven't been able to paddle in over 2 years because of a series of shoulder surgeries, but I look at my board in the garage almost every day.  Actually, I have two boards and two outrigger canoes.  I love them all.  Sadly, they are gathering dust, but I hope to be paddling again by this summer.

Paddling with Tucker.

Animals:  That one was easy.  I've got 3 miniature Australian Shepherds who are the loves of my life: Tucker, Aggie, and Gus  Okay, so Gus is not very mini now.  In fact, we call him our maxi mini.  Tucker and Gus are avid disc dogs.  Aggie prefers a well tossed chuck-it ball again, and again, and again, and again, and...well you get the picture.  Our house is often crazy and never dull with these three pups.

My wild ones: Aggie, Gus, and Tucker

So that's it for my Let's Get Acquainted.  Now I suppose I should grade at least one set of papers before calling it a night.


Well, here it is!  A fresh new look for my blog thanks to Megan at A Bird in Hand Blog Design.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I was a guinea pig for Megan's newest blog designing idea.  The process was quick, fun, and easy.  And the results?   I absolutely love the new look with its crisp patterns and cool colors.

Here's what my header used to look like:

I created my original design using Megan's Blog Baby Blog site. I liked it, but I wanted more pop and pizzazz in my blog.  Something fun!  

I'm loving the new look! Many thanks to Megan for letting me be one of her guinea pigs.  Be sure to go visit her blog design page.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Guinea Pig Gig!

It's Spring!  What better time for a change?  Megan over at I Teach. What's Your Super Power? was looking for a couple of guinea pigs to try out her latest idea for her blog designing business  (A Bird in the Hand Blog Design).  I sigh heavily when I look at the adorable blogs she's designed and wish I had even an ounce of her creativity. So I thought, "What have I got to lose?" and I happily volunteered to be one of her guinea pigs.  I forgot about it until I checked my email this afternoon. There it was!  The title of the email simply said "Guinea Pig".  I was thrilled!   I think I actually 'woot-wooted' out loud.

I was so ready to get started!  First, I had to choose a few of my favorite colors.  Ha!  That was easier said than done.  Aye-yi-yi.  I changed my mind so many times!  Once I chose my colors, I moved on to the header design.  Oh no!  Which one do I choose?  The options just got cuter from one to the next.  Keep in mind that I have no sense of color or texture, so putting design elements together is quite a challenge for me. There were plenty of choices, but not so many that I felt completely overwhelmed. Next, I moved on to selecting my frame, a font,  a background style, and then a few other options and add-ons.  The process itself was quite easy. My biggest problem was making a choice and sticking with it.  

Realizing that THIS little guinea pig is creatively challenged, I've given Megan free rein to stray from my design choices.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with for my new blog design!  


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tanneropoly: Game On!

Spring fever has hit Room 24.  I've noticed that the number of kiddos finishing their class assignments and homework in study hall has increased and the quality of work seems to be slipping.  We've got a mantra in Room 24:  Hard Work First; Personal Best Always!  Lately, it seems like our mantra has lost its power.  I've got two different camps in my classroom.  There's the group of kids who are so intrinsically motivated that they would never think of doing less than their personal best.  And then there's the other camp.  You know the ones.  They turn in nameless papers with chicken scratch penmanship, incomplete assignments, and shrug their shoulders when you ask for their homework.  I'm not big on extrinsic rewards to motivate 5th graders, but I've softened my stance this Spring:


I stumbled across Homeworkopoly while looking for something that might help me motivate my students.  Hard to believe that, after all my years of teaching, I had never heard of Homeworkopoly!  I am officially in love!  It took me a few hours personalize, print, and laminate my game board and cards, but it was time well spent.  My class loves Tanneropoly as much as I do.  Best of all, the quality of work being turned in is definitely improving.

At the end of the week, students who have done their 'personal best' on both class and homework assignments are 'in the game'.  Each child gets to roll the dice and move around the game board.  The lucky ones land on spaces that reward them with iPad passes, free art or computer time, or a chance to draw from the Community Lunchbox deck.  Cards in the Lunchbox include rewards such as lunch in the classroom, homework passes, and extra recess.  Of course, a student might land on a Chance space.  If that happens, I give them the option of drawing a card or passing as not all Chance cards are rewards.  Last week, Angela drew a Chance card and spent her recess cleaning the desktops in her table group.  She was a great sport about it and several group members even offered to help her.  

Tanneropoly. Is it working because it's a novelty?  Maybe. Two things are certain though: the quality of work has improved and the kids are having fun!  For the time being, I see it as a win-win.  


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Currently March

It's the beginning of March already.  Is that even possible?  The good news is that that means it is time for Farley's Currently link up.  I don't blog often (I'd like an award for the understatement of the year), but I LOVE reading everyone's Currently posts!  They remind me that there are other teachers, MANY others, out there just like me.  Some days I feel like I am the absolute BEST teacher in the world and can't imagine myself anywhere but in my classroom.  Other days...well other days I envy the guy standing at the Costco exit door.  The one who robotically reconciles your receipt with your shopping cart in about a half a second and gives a half-hearted swipe of his marker across the yard long slip of paper.  I feel pretty confident I could do that job and I'm sure I could do it with a little more pizazz!  Not to mention that I have a plethora of colorful Sharpies that I could use.  When I mentioned that to a friend, they said I'd get tired of standing all day.  Excuse me.  I'm a teacher.  That's what I do.  I stand 90% of my day.  Most days, while I'm not the absolute BEST teacher in the world, I'm still glad that I'm not the Costco guy.

So Currently...

Listening: Sitting here this morning, I am listening to silence except for the occasional goose honking overhead.  Silence is nice. There's not much more to say about that.

Loving: What am I loving?  My treadmill.  I haven't gotten the morning routine down yet, but the plan is to get a few miles in BEFORE work.  I find myself still lingering too long with my coffee cup.  So I need to set some goals.  This week I will get on the treadmill on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  It will mean that I have to pry the coffee cup from my hand by 5:30, but I can do it!

Thinking:  I have company coming this week and that's all I can think about!  My son has been living in South Korea and I haven't seen him in over a year.  When I was in the middle of raising three small children, I never imagined that there would come a time when I'd only see them once a year or so.  But that's our reality.  The only good part of this arrangement is that I get to travel to places I might not have thought of going to.  I've spent summers in Japan and Germany so far.  Italy is on the agenda for this summer.  As exciting as global travel can be, I'd rather have my boys living close by.  

Wanting:  February was the month of 3 day weekends followed by a week of minimum days for conferences.  All routine seems to slide out the door with a month like that.  March is long.  Very long. Our spring break doesn't start until the last Friday of the month.  I am dreaming of another 3 day weekend already.  And, as proof that dreams can come true, I'm taking a four day weekend!  My son will only be here for 4 days and I want to make the most of those days!  So I'm taking this Friday and next Monday off.  I'll be using hard earned bank days and having to write detailed sub plans, but it's worth it.  

Needing:  I had high hopes of blogging at least once a week.  That still hasn't happened and it's because I'm not making the time for it.  I keep thinking I will just 'find' the time and I don't.   I need to schedule it into my week.  

Like, Love, Hate:  I like a hot, foamy, no water chai tea latte with an extra pump.  I endulge several times a week.  I LOVE lupines in the spring.  They remind me of Texas.  We don't see fields of them here, but it only takes one to make me smile.  I hate laundry.  Not the whole process, just the folding of it.  I have been known to live out of the clean laundry basket for a whole week without folding a thing.  

That's my currently for this month...a few days late.  If you're a late bird like me, go link up on this month's Currently before it's NEXT month!

Farley's Currently!

Have a fabulous week!