Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good News and Baddish News

The good news is that my Success for All training went very well today! Outside of my afternoon caffeine withdrawal, I was able to pay attention and be academic on this beautiful, steamy day. Today after going over the different components of the curriculum, we would use the following feedback to provide feedback: "One thing I really liked was...," "One thing I am concerned about is...," and "One thing I need to remember is..." Please indulge me as use the same format with you! :) One thing I really like about the new curriculum is the focus on structured oral language development. One thing that concerns me is that guided reading is not embedded in the program, and I will have to be really creative to find a way to integrate into other components. One thing I need to remember is that growth comes with change. It also keeps us from getting too cocky, doesn't it? Honestly, I am looking forward to another session of training tomorrow!

The baddish news is that I pitched my new behavior plan idea to my powers that be, and they did not give me permission to try it. Looks like I should have gone with the "better to ask for forgiveness" option here. The better news about this, however, is they said our entire district is working to revamp our discipline plans; and this clip chart system has been discussed. :) The even better news is that I am still trying to think of a way to incorporate it ever-so-slightly. (Shhhh!) Now, hopefully I won't spend all night thinking about it like I did last night! I need more than two hours of sleep in order to make any sense at my training tomorrow!

Farewell for now, friends! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and discipline systems....keep them coming!! Sweet dreams, hopefully!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Question(s) of the Day

Phew! I think it's safe to say that I'm officially back in the swing of things! I have the privilege of directing Vacation Bible School at my church. When I say privilege, I'm not being sarcastic. I feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to serve the kids in the community, and it is a blast spending time with them. That being said, I'm up to my eyeballs in shopping lists, to-do lists, decorations, and lesson plans! Our VBS starts next week, and I just can't stop planning...true teacher fashion, I suppose.

In addition, I have training on Thursday and Friday for our new reading curriculum. My district has just adopted Success for All for kindergarten, and my head is spinning at the idea of overhauling my daily schedule. However, I'm determined to keep a positive attitude!

Anyway, as I have been laying awake at night going over my lists and mapping out my new schedule I realized that I need some support. Lucky for me, I know just where to find that support. Yep, this is where you come in! I have some questions, and I would love your feedback!

First, a friend of mine just received her first job teaching 3rd grade. She asked if I could recommend any good blogs to follow that would give her ideas for language arts and reading. Sooo.....if you are a 3rd grade teacher or if you know a 3rd grade teacher, would you please leave the link so I can pass it along? That would be awesome!!

Second, I would like some advice. My school has a building-wide behavior system that is color coded. I'm sure many of you are familiar with this type of behavior plan. I have been able to use this system effectively over the years, but I'm just not married to it. While I can't completely trash it, I might be able to subtly *tweak* it in my classroom. (Shhhhhh!) I have read about other color-coded behavior systems that are more of a spectrum allowing students to move up when behavior is above and beyond or down when behavior needs some work. Unfortunately, I don't know where I was reading about it so I can't give proper credit. However, I will tell you it is not my original idea. My system already includes colors that represent negative consequences, but I think I would like to add colors that represent positive consequences. Soooo.....have you ever used a similar color system? And, do you think it was effective in promoting positive behavior....which is/should be the goal of any system?

I hope you'll take some time to share some feedback! With my BFF
out in the boonies and completely unwired, I am lacking someone with whom I can bounce ideas! Your help is truly appreciated! Thanks for stopping by! I'm going to get back to my lists.....#283 Make name tags.....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Celebrate Good Times!

I am honored today to be the guest blogger over at

while she is volunteering at Royal Family Kids Camp for the week! I know she's going to have a great time "down in the holler," and I reckon she'll be tickled to mosey her way back home next week. ;) In all seriousness, they do amazing work at Royal Family Kids Camp. The counselors are all volunteer, and it is a great opportunity for those special kids to truly
be treated like royalty!

In the meantime, I decided to celebrate this new world of blogging and my exciting opportunity as a guest blogger by throwing a SALE in my TeachersPayTeachers store! I am working on some new things for my store, but right now I have some good resources! All of them are printable and easy to use!

The Parent Communication Packet is on sale for
$.85! It includes parent notes and forms like the ones shown below:

In addition, there are some cut, glue, and write practice pages on sale for $2.55!
The celebration sale lasts through Monday so please head over and check it out at TeachersPayTeachers! Thanks again to Jessica from
for this awesome opportunity! XOXOXO

With Love,
Miss J.

Friday, June 15, 2012

...I'm a Little Bit Rock 'n' Roll

I am so excited to receive so many followers already! In just a short time, I've realized that we all have a lot in common, especially when it comes to our techniques and strategies. Just for fun, I want to see how many of you are also a fan of my favorite YouTube channel!

My students and I LOVE to sing, as I'm sure yours do too. My students and I are "a little bit rock 'n' roll," and so is HarryKindergarten. I discovered HarryKindergarten several years ago, and now I can't remember how I ever taught without him! He is a kindergarten teacher that shares FREE music videos based on content standards. I am blessed to have a SMARTBoard in my classroom, and it is one of the few things I didn't receive from (Although, you can request SMARTBoards and projectors through DC!) We have a blast watching and singing along with Harry's videos in my classroom!

We loved singing this song at the beginning of the year!

My students would BEG me to sing this song!

Finally, this is one of Harry's newest songs, and it brings tears to my eyes!

I love these videos, and we have so much fun watching them! I would love to know how many of you use HarryKindergarten and adore him too! But for now, I think I'll turn up the jams and enjoy this beautiful day!

With Love,
Miss J.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sweet Summertime

I must say, and all my friends can attest, that summer is my favorite season! There's something about the warmth of the air and the feeling of the sun baking my (shamefully pale) skin that makes the world seem right!

I know it isn't uncommon for most teachers to long for the summer months, but my love for summer has more to do with the blistering hot weather than it does the three..two and a half..two month break from school. Now don't get me wrong, I am ALWAYS ready for that break. It's not that I feel the need to get away from my students, especially this past year. (I had what will go down in history as one of my favorite classes ever!) It is that there are SO MANY things to do and think about at the end of the school year. Between the nine-week assessments, grade cards, nine-week awards, kindergarten graduation, graduation gifts, cumulative files, field day, inventory reports, first grade visitation, packing away my classroom, and checking out, I inevitably feel like I just want someone to stop the merry-go-round and let me off by the time June arrives.

Since I am a good three weeks into my summer break now, with my disgruntled feelings regarding my lack of spring break a distant memory, I have had plenty of time to relax and clear my head! Before school was out, I borrowed many frivolous ebooks from the library in preparation for what one of my fellow teachers calls "chill mode." I've spent the last several weeks fully devoted to "chill mode" and have read some Nicholas Sparks, Emily Giffin, and most recently The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. Over the past week, I have felt my mind shifting, and I knew what was happening. "Chill mode" was slowly being deactivated, and soon it would be time for me to get back "in the lab," as Mr. Smith would also say. Now, if you're unfamiliar with this form of slang (which I suspect he invented himself), it means to work on lesson plans and classroom instruction. Yes, after a handful of weeks in "chill mode," I am ready to start planning for next year!

This of course means that my reading selections will inevitably change from light-hearted and frivolous to practical and educational. One of my favorite practical and educational authors is Debbie Diller. I have spent the past two summers reading her books. I truly cannot choose a favorite among them, but I can say that Spaces and Places changed my life.

In the book, she gives practical advice about organizing and arranging your classroom to maximize student learning. You're probably thinking, "Really? A whole book about where to put things?" To that I say, "Yes! Really! And it's amazing!" Now, I should also say that to get the full effect of the book, I think it is best to read Literacy Work Stations: Making Stations Work, also written by Debbie Diller first. However, I don't want you to overlook the importance of Spaces and Places.

I want to share two (of the many!) things I learned from this book that I believe have helped maximize student learning in my classroom. If you're thinking, "Hello...SPOILER ALERT!" don't worry! There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned beyond the two things I'm going to share. One thing Debbie suggested in the book that was a new concept for me was anchor charts. She recommends straying from the usual cutesy and seasonal-type displays in the classroom and replacing them with anchor charts. These anchor charts would be ones created as a class that the students could use throughout the day. Like any good kindergarten teacher, my heart hurt a little at first when I thought about not covering my classroom with cute decorations. However, I found that eliminating superfluous decorations not only made my job easier, but my students on the autism spectrum also preferred a more consistent atmosphere rather than one that continually changed.

The second concept I'd like to share from Spaces and Places involves the sacred area on and around teachers' desks. Now if you're like me, that area is not so sacred and is more like a dumping ground where things land as I whiz past it throughout the day. However, I did realize that I was breaking one of Debbie Diller's "rules." Debbie warns against turning the area on and around our desks into shrines of our alma maters. Now if you haven't heard, we Purple Raiders are pretty crazy about our dear old MUC (more recently called UMU). Needless to say, I was quite guilty of this. Since reading the book, I have tried to simplify my "shrine" and have even found ways to incorporate my massive teacher's desk (that I was denied permission to remove) for student use!

These two lessons, which are just the tip of the iceberg, had a positive impact on student learning in my classroom. So when you're ready to deactivate your "chill mode" and get back "in the lab," I highly suggest picking up this or any of Debbie Diller's books! They're amazing and readily available at any chain bookstore!

Miss J.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Best Day Ever!

One thing I love most about teaching kindergarten is the ability to turn an average day into "THE BEST DAY EVER!" I couldn't even count how many times of I've heard that because it seems like it happens so often. Some days it's serving cake during a classroom celebration or simply reading the words "pizza" and "carrots and dip" from the lunch menu that elicits this enthusiastic response from my students.

One day one of my colleagues turned an average day into " THE BEST DAY EVER" for me. It was the day my colleague told me about It is a non-profit organization with a mission to help students and teachers in public school systems. Teachers create accounts and write "projects" or mini-grants. (It's basically a fill-in-the-blank type of thing. I've been known to write one over my "30 minute" lunch break.) Donors frequent the site donating desired amounts to projects that align with their interests. Once the project is funded, the materials are shipped directly to the school for the students. My colleague explained all of this to me, but I was skeptical. Ya know, because the internet is super dangerous and what-not. I didn't even bother looking into it at first.......UNTIL.....until I saw loads of boxes being delivered to the classroom next door time and time again. I would watch the teacher unload beautiful materials from vendors I loved. That's when I finally decided maybe I would try it, but I would be very cautious.

In my first project, (which I was certain was a long-shot) I requested a puppet stage with some puppets. Since is THE BOMB, my project was funded before I knew it. Since my first project, has helped my students obtain over $14,000 worth of materials with 37 (and counting) projects completed. I have requested various items including classroom furniture, books, consumables, play items, manipulatives, and learning centers. In the future, I will share with you some of my favorite items my students and I have received from the incredibly generous donors over the years.

It wasn't the lesser of many cafeteria food evils that brought me joy that day, but I can truly say it was one of the best days ever! If you're a public school teacher and haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

With Love,
Miss J.