Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poetry Slam (with the new stage!)

Monday marked our first poetry slam competition! Thanks to the example of my mentor, I have been putting on optional poetry competitions for my students since my first year of teaching. It's a great way to challenge students to step out of their comfort zones and I LOVE celebrating their writing! I especially love having some of my BOYS reading poetry and making it cool!

Thanks to Papa Sheets, my new stage really stepped it up a level this year!

(FYI, The red curtains were $3 flat sheets from Walmart on tension rods from my ceiling)

Can't wait for our next one!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apps for Teachers

There are tons of blog posts about apps for teachers to use in their classrooms to help with student learning.  This isn't that post.  Instead, I want to tell you about two apps that make MY life easier as a teacher.

1. Do It Tomorrow-Free

This is the mother of all "to do lists."  It has two pages of lists; one for today, and one for tomorrow.  If you do not cross an item off "today" it automatically gets moved to "tomorrow." (You can also manually move items between days).

It's a great way to prioritize what needs to be done today and what can wait.  Plus when you "check an item off" it makes a really satisfying sound.

2. Take a Break-Free

"Take a Break" was recommended to me by a masseuse, so you know it has to be good!  When I can't sleep and am tossing and turning about assessments and meetings and all the business of teaching, I put on the "stress relief" meditation program.  It may sound cheesy, but it really helps for those days/nights when you just can't turn off the running list in your mind.

There are nice options (as you can see above) to customize the program, too.

I hope these help in some way!  I'd love to hear about apps that make your teacher life better!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Author Night

What a great evening we had with Cynthia Lord! It was great to see students and parents coming together to hear her advice on writing and fun stories about her books.  She even told us about SEVEN upcoming books being released in the next two years!!

The room was set up for 200 guests. Cynthia kind of laughed at me when I told her that and assured me she would be happy with 50 attendees on a week night.  

Guess what? We had to put out more chairs!! The event organizer estimated we had about 230 parents, students, and community members!!

It made me so proud of our school and department. I hope this becomes a long-term partnership with Cynthia!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Cynthia Lord Day, 2013!

We're so blessed to have ANOTHER visit from the one and only Cynthia Lord, one of my favorite people and author Rules, Touch Blue, and Hot Rod Hamster.

I can't wait to share more about her visit after today, including a new addition, Author Night with the community.  Until I do, read about her visit last year here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

America Before Columbus

Happy Columbus Day!  I'm enjoying a nice day off.  We've never had Columbus Day off and it's more a matter of coincidence with the way our calendar fell this year, but I am celebrating (brunch & a massage, what, what?!)!

I also thought I'd share a great resource with you, America Before Columbus, produced by National Geographic.  This video is engaging and informative and a great tie to our curriculum.  It really does a nice job telling about life before Columbus and his crew landed at San Salvador and showing the impact of their expeditions.

Here is a link to view the full video

Wishing you a day of good retail sales and no infectious diseases.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Girls on the Run Continued

You may remember that this past spring I served as running buddy to one of my sweet students who was training for her first 5k with Girls on the Run (if not, check it out here and here).  It really is such an incredible organization and I love all that they do to build into young girls.

It was such a powerful and lovely experience that I decided to train for my own marathon as a "Sole Mate" for Girls on the Run of Cincinnati.  This means that I am raising funds for a girl who is on scholarship.  By the way, no girl is ever turned away from the program for financial difficulties.  That means about 50% of the girls who join are receiving some sort of financial assistance for the program or running equipment (including new running shoes!).

Girls on the Run
On Sunday I hosted a fundraising event to help me meet my goal.  It was a great day with a break in the rain just for us!
My sweet student from last spring came and told us all about what GOTR has meant to her.  Then I planned a 2-mile walk/run course.  About 20 friends joined in the fun!

Sweet student did such a good job talking about GOTR!
And of course, we had some yummy snacks afterwards!
Some of my running friends and my guest of honor :)
I'm still working on raising money for GOTR, so if you would like to donate, it's not too late and it's easy to do online
Thanks in advance for supporting these darling runners!

My GOTR team!  I am so excited to help sponsor a few of these girls!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thanks, Scholastic!

I got my first box of Scholastic Reading Clubs (formerly Book Clubs) orders for the year today.  Wow!!  Scholastic sent me a pack of TEN free books.  I saw that advertised when I ordered, but I had no idea they would be so good!!

Check out the other titles I got for FREE with my bonus points.  Woooo!

Check it out if you haven't!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Smells Like Miss Sheets

One of the only good things about missing school for two days is the way the kids get so. excited. for your return. 
Of course they all wondered if I was off having fun or was sick... conference attendance still didn't seem to register even after I explained it, but I did feel so loved and missed today.
One student gave me this...yep.  Not sure how to react, but I guess the sentiment is sweet??

And these new braided bracelets make me feel nice and old.  But I do appreciate this trend more than the silly bandz craze.  This was today's haul.
My favorite story though, was when my afternoon class started filing in.  One boy looked at another and said, "I told you she was back.  It even smells like Miss Sheets."  I'm still not quite sure how to take that (I promise I did shower today), but I think it was meant as some sort of compliment.
Oh, fifth graders.  You're my favorite of ever.

p.s. Congrats to Mikala for winning the MonkeySee Boutique give-away!  Thanks to all who entered!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thoughts on the OCSS Conference 2013

Yesterday and today I had the privilege of attending the Ohio Council for Social Studies State Conference for the fourth time. 

As I realized this, I did a little reflecting on my previous experiences...

In the spring of 2006, I attended and presented as an undergrad.  My amazing and inspiring professor, Dr. Jim Sheehan encouraged me to attend with a group of peers.  I'm not sure we shared anything ground-breaking in our panel discussion presentation, but talk about a good way to get your feet wet with being involved in a professional organization!

In the spring of 2010, I attended with a few Mason colleagues, including my one-and-only mentor, lovingly referred to as "Mamasita"  (read more about my mentor and her words of wisdom here).  We didn't have the *best* attendance to the breakout sessions that year, but it did remind me that half of the fun is networking and bonding with colleagues.

Last year, I joined two Mason teachers from the upper grades and loved getting to learn alongside them.  Read more about that experience here.

This year was my favorite trip so far. 

I got TONS of new ideas that I'll be sharing soon, mostly from David Harms, who teaches at Penta Career Center in Northwest Ohio.  His presentation on flipped instruction is available here.  I can't WAIT to use some of his cool apps and tech ideas. 

In addition, I enjoyed presentations from some of my favorite colleagues, including one on the new C3Framework and one on a new module for OCSS resource sharing.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the experience of presenting.  This time, I definitely knew my stuff a bit more than as an undergrad, and had the benefit of representing the Ohio Writing Project
I shared some of the work I have done with OWP on integrating reading and writing into social studies, including lots of strategies like VIP notes, ranked reading, one-word notecards, It says/ I say notes, and text sets.  We jam packed that 100 minutes! 

Best of all, I had several attendees tell me later that they learned a strategy to use right away from my presentation.  Wooot!
This year, there was also a very moving tribute to Dr. Jim Sheehan, the professor I mentioned earlier who first got me involved in attending the OCSS conference.  Dr. Sheehan passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer.  This year an award has been named in his memory to help get new social studies teachers involved in OCSS and encourage them as future leaders. 
It really made me realize how much I owe to those educators who have shaped my path to becoming a teacher.  I miss you, Dr. Sheehan!  Thanks for all you taught me and so many others.