Sunday, June 30, 2013

Currently July

What's the deal?  Last time I checked the calendar, it was still JUNE!   Looks like Farley over at Oh Boy! Fourth Grade got an early start for her Currently July.  Now, I didn't actually go read them all, but last time I looked there were 215 folks linked up already?!  Here's mine:

Listening:  It's Tour de France time.  Pretty much all I'll hear for the next couple of weeks is Phil Liggett's voice giving me a pedal by pedal account of each stage of the race.  This first stage had a surprise ending.  I generally like surprise endings, but they often aren't the happy kind in cycling.  Hearing Phil's voice also reminds me that, this time last year, I was in France watching a stage of the race.  Here's a photo I took of the leaders of that stage:

Loving:  With the whole Bloglovin' linky, this has been an amazing week of contests, new friends, and FREEBIES!  It will likely take me hours to sort through and get things 'filed' where they need to be!  

Thinking:  It's time for a photo adventure.  I'm heading into the city tomorrow with friends to just wander and shoot.  Hopefully, I'll have some good pictures to share on Run, Miss Nelson's Got the Camera's new Saturday Snapshots linky.  I love, love that new linky!  

Wanting:  Okay, I don't REALLY want winter to come back.  However, I've had about enough of this nearly 100 degree heat.  It wouldn't be so bad, but we don't have air conditioning.  "Oh, you don't need it when you live this close to the water," laughed our realtor years ago.  Ha!  Turns out that you do!  

Needing:  I started writing this post last night and last night I was needing some Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Fro-yo.  Not so much this morning.  But I'm willing to bet I will need it later!

Tips:  Just Do It.  Not very original, but those three words are pretty powerful.  My friend and co-worker passed away this weekend after struggling with breast cancer for more than 3 years.  She led a 'Just Do It' kind of life and lived it passionately.  Don't let the fear of failing keep you from trying.  Whatever it is that you've been dreaming of doing...just do it.

Now head on over to Oh' Boy Fourth Grade and link up!  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Snapshots Linky! 6/29

Okay, this is TOO perfect for me!  Run, Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! has started a brand-spankin' new linky that's right up my alley!  Saturday Snapshots!

I'm going to start this week with some recent favs.

Can't get much more recent than this.  My newest found passion is my mountain bike.  I have a great place to ride right out my front door.  This morning I got in almost 10 miles.  This was a photo taken with my phone using instagram.  I love, love riding here.  I usually have the place all to myself.

This next photo was taken yesterday at Pt. Pinole.   Remember the moments...well that just echoes in my head as I post this picture. Right after I took this shot, I checked my cell phone.  It's not something that I usually do while out enjoying nature.  But for some reason, I did.  Sadly, I found out that my co-worker had passed away earlier in the morning. It wasn't unexpected, but it's never easy.  I was glad to be out there, doing what I love to do at that very moment.  

Another of my favorite places to be is out at Pt. Reyes.  I've probably said this a million times, but I LOVE where I live.  I don't think I'll ever take it for granted.  There's so much beauty in this area.  I took this picture during the winter when our world is a little bit greener around here.

And last, but certainly not least...Annie.  Unlike my three wild pups,  Annie is a bit camera shy.  Every once in a while though, I get a nice shot of her.  She's a sweet old girl.

So now it's time for you to share some of your moments!  Head on over to Run, Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! and link up for this fun new adventure!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday!

I'm going to be honest and say that I didn't know that it was Friday until I opened up my Bloglovin' and saw Five for Friday posts.  Losing track of what day of the week it is must be evidence that I'm fully entrenched in summer vacation.  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another summertime  Five for Friday.

I've been shopping this week.  I hit Lakeshore with a friend and somehow managed to keep the damages under $100.  As soon as I got home, I started writing in my new plan book.  Call me weird, but I LOVE opening up a new plan book and writing in it with a freshly sharpened pencil!  I penciled in the dates of staff development, progress and report cards, and field trips (yep, I have those planned already!) So much possibility, so much anticipation, so much....oh my much to do and it's almost July!  Funny how quickly my joy turned to panic!

It's 'old school', but I love it.  I am looking at a few online planners as well this year.
I'd like to wean myself away from a 'hard copy' planner.  


 I'm REALLY excited about another purchase I made this week!  Ideas by Jivey has 3 great mentor sentence units on TPT.  I couldn't resist and bought all of them.  I was so impressed when I opened the first unit.  Everything is meticulously explained and thoughtfully laid out.  I can't wait to start using them!  I think today is the last day they are on sale, so go check them out!

With the oppressive heat this week (90 is oppressive in northern California, especially when you don't have air conditioning), I've been hibernating inside more than usual.  I've seen so many cute digital paper packs and thought, "Oh, this would be fun to try!" I gave it a try last week and it quickly became an exercise in frustration.  Not one to give up so easily, I decided to tackle it again this week. I pulled out a few of my gray hairs in the process, but I'm slowly getting a handle on it.  I've made packs like the one below in several different colors.  This one is posted as a fan freebie on my Facebook page.

 I am becoming so much more tech savvy!  Of course, I realize that it's not hard to do when you're starting from ground zero!  The switch to Bloglovin', in anticipation of Google Reader's demise, was the catalyst.  I waffled back and forth about joining in on what has become the most enormous giveaway I've seen in the blogging world.  Then I decided that this was as good a time as ever to get my feet wet so I posted my first Rafflecopter giveaway.  I also figured out the whole fan freebie tab thing on Facebook.  When I say 'I figured out', what I really mean is that I stumbled across some great tutorials that guided me step by step through the whole process.  Thank you blogging world!

Monday was our 13th wedding anniversary.  We kept it pretty low key which is the way we both like it.  As our gifts to each other, we bought the not-so-traditional 13th wedding anniversary gifts:  a new tent and camp stove from REI.  I know, they don't sparkle and shine like diamonds, nor do they smell as sweet as roses, but they clearly represent who we are and what we love doing together.  

Photo credit

Wishing you all a great weekend!

*thanks to Ms. Fultz's Corner for the cute polka dot numbers

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Bloglovin' Giveaway

Hey there followers!

As everyone and their grandmother probably knows by now, Google Reader is going away. I'm not going to shed any tears about the loss.  I'm fairly new to all of this, so I wasn't really that attached to Google Reader anyway.  Still, I would hate to lose any followers I've managed to grab so far, so I'm hoping that you'll jump on the Bloglovin' bandwagon and follow Life in Room 24 over there.  I'm actually LOVIN' the whole Bloglovin' deal and am glad I've made the switch.

As a bit of an incentive, I am joining in on Collaboration Cuties' Show Us Some Bloglovin' giveaway linky for any of my followers who switch over to Bloglovin. If you already follow me on Bloglovin', this will be an easy entry!  Just know that this is my very FIRST attempt at using Rafflecopter, so if something goes horribly wrong, cut this old gal some slack!  I'll come wash your windows or weed your garden instead.

If you haven't switched yet, or aren't following my blog through Bloglovin', then there are a few easy steps to follow. You can go to my sidebar and click the button that says "Follow this blog with Bloglovin'", or you can go into the the Rafflecopter contest below (if it works) and click the link in the first entry. If all goes well, that should take you to my blog on Bloglovin'.

You will need to set up an account with Bloglovin' so you can follow me (and the zillions of great blogs out there). Please be sure to leave your Bloglovin' username in the Rafflecopter entry below. Then go to this post on Bloglovin' and 'like' it.

If you want to move all of the blogs you follow from Google to Bloglovin', you can go to this link and it will take you through some easy steps.  Even I managed to do it successfully!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway! Two lucky winners will get an item of their choice from my TPT store.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Little Bit of Bloglovin'

Tori's Teacher Tips has a fabulous Bloglovin' Blog Hop going on.  Only 5 days left until Google Reader goes 'poof'!  Tori's blog has a great tutorial on how to get yourself connected with Bloglovin' if you haven't already done so.  Don't forget to check all the folks who have linked up already.  You might just find some new friends to follow!

Hop on over!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five for Friday..Not Already!

Okay, so maybe me linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday ISN'T a good idea during the summer.  I can't believe another summer vacation Friday has come and gone.  Well, I'm here, so I might as well join in today.

1.  Last week I mentioned that my daughter was offered a teaching position.  Well this week, she signed her contract so it's official.  What I didn't mention last week was that she will be teaching at MY school.  How cool is that?  

2.  I haven't done anything school related this week.  It's summer vacation!  But I've decided to try my hand at making my own digital paper.  Here's a peek at my first attempt.  There has to be an easier way, but I haven't found it yet!  Any helpful hints would be MUCH appreciated!

3.  I spent a few days in the Sierras this week with my husband and one of our 3 pups.  Tucker was the lucky one this time.  We had a fabulous time relaxing in our campsite, playing a little frisbee with Tucker, mountain biking, and even tossed in a little hike. 

Tucker packed light.

Hoover Wilderness: our mtn bike destination

Taking a break at 8300 feet.

West Walker River near our campsite

4.  Sweet Tea!!!!!  Okay, that doesn't sound particularly exciting does it?  Hear me out on this one.  I used to live in Texas.  Texas has sweet tea.   California does NOT have sweet tea.  Californians think that sweet tea is synonymous with adding a pack or two of Sweet and Low to a glass of iced tea.  Any one who has ever lived in the South, knows MUCH better than that.   My daughter took me to a new BBQ place yesterday that has the closest thing to real sweet tea.  To make it even better, it was served in a mason jar with a mint leaf!  

5.  I had another mountain bike adventure today.  I learned an important lesson:  Don't stray from your original route!  There were hills that had 25% grades.  I'm not ashamed to say that I had to get off my bike quite a bit.  There were even hills I had to WALK down.  I realize that I need two very important things:  more skill and better endurance.  The only way I'll get them is by stepping outside of my comfort zone a little bit each time.  I do have to say that I didn't appreciate my husband instagramming a picture of me pushing my bike up one of the hills.  Men.  

It's your turn to join the Five for Friday linky party.  What randomness do you have to share this week?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: R.A.T.s I've Fallen Behind!

So I headed into the mountains and went off the grid for a few days.  I'm happy to say that I didn't suffer any tech withdrawals, but now I'm playing 'catch-up'!  Which leads to the R.A.Ts in the title of my post.  I have a few chapters to read today.  Rapport, Ask and Analyze, and Transformation.

RAPPORT:  I wrote a post about engaging reluctant learners last year that ended up being more about the importance of building rapport with All students.  Here's a snippet from that post:
"I think one of the most important steps in teaching is building a relationship with all of your students, reluctant learners or not.  Success in the classrom has as much to with establishing an environment of trust and caring as it does with presenting carefully prepared lessons.  Some teachers, buried under hours of lesson planning, making the transition to Common Core, and suffering through mandatory participation on a variety of  committees, might counter that they can't afford to plan time to actively build relationships with their students.  I would argue, that if you have even one reluctant learner on your class roster, you can't afford not to!  It doesn't take huge blocks of time to establish relationships.  But it does take an awareness of how to take advantage of any small window of opportunity to get to know your students on a more personal level.
I thought I was crossing a sacred student vs. teacher boundary once at recess when I walked over and sat down at picnic table with a group of my more challenging students.  These are the kids who avoid adults whenever possible. They were quiet for a moment, exchanging suspicious glances. One looked at me and asked, "Alright, which one of us is going to the office?" It was interesting to hear that their interactions with adults on campus usually resulted in one of them being disciplined or sent to the office.  No wonder they avoided us! They don't trust us and they don't believe we truly care about them.  It took a few minutes before genuine conversation resumed, but it did.   I learned more about those children in that 15 minutes than I had in the month they had been in my classroom. " 

ASK and ANALYZE: The first golden nugget I 'mined' from this chapter concerned the  "six words".  The story was great, but what hit me as I read it (because I was definitely one of those ready to scream "Just tell me the words!"), is the importance of creating an atmosphere of anticipation in my classroom.  There's nothing better than to see 30 eager faces begging for more of whatever it is you have to offer them.  Creating that atmosphere takes planning.  So I'm putting a post-it note in my plan book with the author's question, "How can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?"  
 My next nugget: Burgess gives us six BETTER words to replace "It's easy for you.  You're creative."  "Commit.  Start working.  Then, be open."  Those six words are the salve to treating creative stagnation and the fear of taking risks.  They tie in nicely with the notion of failure vs. feedback.  There's no guarantee that everything you do in the classroom is going to go smoothly.  In fact, the opposite is quite true.  Reflection changes failure into feedback.  Simply accepting something as a failure is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Reflect on not just what went wrong, identify the things that went right and build on those. 
For my last little nugget, I'm going to steal a slogan from the Army:  Be all that you can be.  I am so much more than just a teacher in a classroom and sometimes I forget that.  I am a mother, a wife, and a dog lover.  I paddle a stand-up paddle board, an outrigger canoe, and a kayak.  I love to hike, camp, and have a passion for photography.  Just this year, I've stepped outside of my comfort zone to take ukelele lessons and buy my first mountain bike. The more experiences I have, the more risks I take OUTSIDE of my classroom walls, the more I have to bring INSIDE my classroom.  

TRANSFORMATION:  In my reflection on immersion, I mentioned that, as a teacher, I need to mentally plop myself in one of my students' chairs to see instruction from their point of view.  Would I want to be a student in my classroom?  Honestly, not always!  As Burgess mentions, we have a lot to compete with when it comes to getting our students' attention. What will I do to 'reframe' the content to make it more relevant to my students?  I want my class to be a Purple Cow, possibly one with polka-dots.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday this week.  In no particular order (well almost no particular order):

1.  This has to be my NUMBER ONE!  My daughter had her first official interview for a full time teaching position this week and she nailed it.  The principal called her a few hours later and offered her a fifth grade teaching position. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to see her starting off her teaching career.  Definitely a proud mommy moment!

2.  Camping!  My daughter and I slipped away for a night of camping with good friends on the Russian River.  We drank wine and played cards most of the night. Morning found us on the river bank watching  the 'show' complete with seals, osprey, and a host of other critters.  We took the long way home, enjoying a drive along the coast.  I might be partial, but I think I live in a beautiful part of the world.

3.  Shopping!  We've been out of school for a week now.  Is it too early to start thinking about next year?  I think not.  I stopped by the dollar bins at Target and picked up a few things and then hit Home Depot because I've been wanting my own teacher's toolbox for some time now.  I am soooo tired of rummaging through my desk drawers for stuff!  I hadn't planned on making my labels for the toolbox yet, but couldn't resist!  I used Moo & Puppy digital papers for the background of my labels. I've used that paper for sooooo many things in my classroom.  Everything from my "Turn off your cell phone" sign to the name tags on students' desks.

4.  Washi Tape!  The mailman dropped off a litte envelope in my mailbox today.  I am now the proud owner of 5 rolls of washi tape.  I don't really know what I'm going to do with it yet, but the colors coordinate perfectly with the color scheme in my classroom.  Coordinating colors? Who can resist that?  I can see this becoming an addiction.

5.  Okay, so this hasn't actually happened yet, but I'm including it anyway!  My daughter and I are going to the Oakland A's game tonight.  It's Firework Night.  I love fireworks!

Well that's my Five for Friday.  I just realized that 4 out of 5 things on my list include my daughter.  That is one of the perks about both of us having summers off!  We get to spend time some quality time together!  Head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and link up!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: Immersion

Teach Like a Pirate:  Chapter 2
I is for Immersion!

I was reading through a few other responses to this chapter and found myself nodding my head in agreement.  We've all had the experience of interacting with someone who isn't really a part of the conversation.  Most of us have probably been guilty of not being fully 'there' in our interactions with others at some point.  I think this chapter encourages us to mentally plop ourselves in a student's chair to see our instruction from their point of view.  Are we as fully immersed in the lesson we're presenting as we're expecting them to be?  If not, what can we do to change that? I would imagine that it would take super human powers to BE in the moment every minute of the day as we teach.  We can at least aspire to BE there more often than we are presently.  This next school year, I plan on jumping in the 'pool' as often as I can.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: Passion

Ahoy there!  So far I am loving this book!  It's certainly an easy read for the first week of summer break.  It's nothing that will boggle my mind, but just enough to massage my tired brain and get me thinking.

So passion.  This is the first time I've really considered that, as teachers, we bring more than one type of passion into our classrooms.  Once I read that, I thought...well of course we do!  I just never thought to break it out into three distinct types of passion.

Content passion:  I love teaching.  I mean I REALLY love teaching, so there isn't much in terms of content that I don't have a passion for.  I was originally a marine biology major in college so science is definitely an area of passion for me.  Okay, maybe I don't have a passion for teaching students about the periodic table of the elements, but I think that's because I'm not convinced that it's important for 5th graders to know the difference between a group and a period.  Do they really need to know if iridium is a metal or a nonmetal?  I think not.  Social Studies is another subject I love to teach.  There are so many interesting personal stories behind the major historical events that we discuss in fifth grade.  The content offers fabulous opportunities to discuss personal motivation as well as conflict and resolution.

Professional passion:  I have always told myself that as soon as I lose the passion for what I do as a teacher, it's time to find something else to be passionate about.  That doesn't mean that there aren't days, sometimes weeks, when that passion seems to be ebbing.  But I love what I do.  I love that I have the opportunity to making learning exciting for children.  I am passionate about creating a learning environment that is a safe place for my students to take risks and make mistakes without the fear of failure.  I am passionate about showing my students, most of whom live well below the poverty line, that there are possibilities for them that are beyond their imaginations.  I am passionate about helping each and every one of my students reach their full potential.  A card that I received at the end of this year reminded me why the career that I've chosen is so important.

Personal Passion:  I have a passion for learning about and trying new things.  This works well with our profession.  I definitely have a 'let's try it' attitude about life.  I'm not terribly afraid of failure and certainly don't let it get in the way of me trying something new.  When I come across something (think periodic table of the elements) that I'm not passionate about teaching, I love the challenge of finding a way to bring a dry subject or standard to life.  Another passion of mine is reading.  Reading this chapter reminded me that anytime I can find some reading passage, current event, or tidbit of interesting information that supports whatever standard we're working on, I need to find a way to use it.  When I've been able to do that, it has made the content that much more relevant to my students.

The assignment of breaking passion into three separate areas has helped me add to my arsenal for those days when I'm faced with feeling more than a bit mediocre in the classroom.  Instead of throwing my hands up in the air and declaring that I know longer have the passion for this, I can reach into my quiver, pull out a different arrow of passion, and take aim.  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Yo Ho, Yo Ho....A Pirate's Life for Me!

Ahhh....this is summer vacation!  The house is all mine this weekend and it's quiet.  Very quiet.  The three wild Aussies are stretched out on the floor napping through the heat.  I thought about doing the same (no air conditioning in this old house), but then decided it was a good time to catch up on some blog reading.  I am so glad that I did!  I stumbled across an upcoming book study hosted by Gina at Third Grade Tidbits and Jennifer over at Rowdy in First Grade!  I love book studies!  And, if that wasn't amazing enough, it's a book already on my summer reading list!

Jump over to either Gina's or Jennifer's blog for all the details!  Just HURRY!  The discussion for the first chapter is scheduled for June 11th.  Shiver me timbers!  I've got some reading to do!

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Currently

Oh my gosh!  It's June, not just June, but June 3rd!  That means we only have two more days of school left!  Half days at that!  And BUSY half days!  My to-do list has taken on a life of it's own.   So much to do, so little time left.   I just had to make time to join in on Oh' Boy Fourth Grade's Currently after reading what everyone else is thinking about.  So here's mine:

Listening:  I love The Voice.  I think that the two best singers were voted off last week, but now I'm a big fan of the cute little country singer, Danielle.  

Loving:  I gave myself an end of the year present!  I joined the Teaching Blog Traffic School yesterday.  I've only watched one of the videos so far, but love how easy it is to follow along with Charity.  My plan is to set aside an hour (or three!) each day to work my way through all the great stuff she has to offer.  I'm just itching to dive into it, but I have to get my to-do list whittled down first.

Thinking:  Who isn't thinking about vacation?  I'm still undecided about Italy, but am working on a quick trip to Oregon for some mountain biking.  Not sure whether we're camping, hotel hopping, or renting an RV yet.  I think a little RV might be fun as we've never done that before.  Add a little vacation research to my to-do list.

Wanting:  I realize that I'm only one puppy away from being 'the crazy dog lady', but I've fallen in love with another pup.  My friend has offered to give me one from one of her recent litters.  The only stipulation is that I show it in either AKC rally, obedience, or agility.  This morning I found myself making a mental list of all the reasons NOT to take on another pup.  There are plenty of good ones.  Uninterrupted sleep is just one of them.  It wasn't that long ago that I was housebreaking Gus.  I remember those middle of the night trips to the back yard.  Then, on the way home from work, I was thinking about puppy names and puppy breath.  That's never a good thing....that usually means I'm only one phone call away from adding another mini Aussie to the family.

Needing:  I need to get back to making healthy food choices.  Thank goodness school is almost out.  That means I won't have to deal with Weight Gain Wednesdays for a while.  They aren't really called that.  They're called something more benign:  Treat Day.  But my scale knows better.  Every Wednesday a different group of teachers fills our staff lounge with goodies.  Red Velvet Whoopie Pies??  Really?  

3 Vacay Essentials:  I don't go very far without my camera.  I certainly can't imagine taking a vacation without it.  My iPad is a must have for a zillion different reasons.  One of them is so I have access to all my 'books' on Kindle. 

The last time I looked there were close to 400 folks who have linked up with this month's Currently!  Head on over to Farley's to check out a few of them!