Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy December!

Wow!  It's been awhile since I've posted anything.  As I mentioned in my post on September 3rd, I was busy getting ready to move.  At the end of the last school year, I decided to resign my position.  I decided it would be best for me to move back to Portland where I have family and where I lived most of my life.  The past two years were extremely stressful on me.  I needed to make a decision to take care of myself.  In those two years, I had bronchitis, some sort of flu even though I had a shot, and strep throat twice.    

I spent the 3-1/2 months packing and cleaning, but finally I made the move at the end of October.  I have been living in Portland now for just over a month.  I really don't like packing and moving except it gives a chance to really go through everything.  Most of my family were there on Moving Day.  They were such a great help!  I am so thankful that I am able to live with my dad while I look for another job.  I was hoping to substitute teach this year and I applied in July.  However, I have not been added to the substitute list.  I began my career as a substitute teacher because it was hard to find a job then.  I'm hoping things will be straightened out and I will be able to begin subbing in January.

It's hard not teaching right now.  I miss being with the kids.  I read the teacher blogs and miss teaching about certain topics.  I told the kids that I would write them, however, I have been so busy with packing and now unpacking.  I plan to start writing them.

I wish I had lessons and pictures to share.  That will have to wait.  I'm hoping to start working on lessons that I can sell through TpT.  I started writing one last year as I taught about penguins, but didn't finish it.  I hope to work on finishing it and have it ready in the the next couple of months.  My problem, though, is that all of my teaching stuff is in a storage unit with some of my things from my house.  It's also too cold to go over there.     

I miss being creative as a teacher, however, I am able to be creative by stamping and making birthday cards.  Here are a few cards that I made in the past couple of weeks:

I am beginning to make Christmas cards and Christmas gifts.  It has been nice to find time for making things.  I've even been thinking about starting a crafting blog to show and demonstrate how to make some of the things that I make.  Here is one of my Christmas cards:

I'll probably make a couple of other designs.  I need to hurry and finish the cards so that I can mail them and get to the gifts I am making.

     I recently watched my niece's high school performance of Peter Pan.  My niece had the part of Peter Pan and she was wonderful.  She had a lot of singing parts and even did some flying.  The entire cast did a wonderful job!  I enjoyed it so much that I went to see it twice!  I was so proud of her!

     It's hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner.  I hope school is going well for all of you as you teach your kiddos and have some fun with them.  I imagine most of you have one week left.  Enjoy those last few days!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


     Wow!  It's been a long time since I've written on my little blog.  I'm so sorry!  I last wrote near the end of June.  I've had a busy summer, but I hope to get back to things soon.  I have enjoyed reading all of the blogs written by other teachers.

     I've had some major changes in my life.  At the end of last school year, I resigned from my teaching position.  I decided that it was time that I move back to Portland where I lived most of my life.  I am looking forward to living closer to friends and family.  The hard part is that I don't have a teaching job for next year.  I taught for the past 13 years in one school district and have taught a total of 18 years.  This will be a hard change.  I have signed up to substitute and am hoping I pass the criminal history check (no problem here!) and get accepted soon.  I will still write for my blog.  My experience will just be a little different.  In fact, maybe I'll have more time to write about my teaching experiences.  I did substitute for several years at the beginning of my career, so I do know how to do it, but it's been a long time.  I've gone through so much stress the past few years that the change just might be nice.

     I've wanted to spend time creating things that other teachers might be interested in.  I'll have extra time, so I hope to be able to spend some time doing that.  I've started things in the past but couldn't  find the time to finish things.  I'll share those things once they are done on this blog.   Another thing I hope to do is work on crafts.  This is something I haven't had much time to do lately.  I enjoy making and sending cards to friends by rubber stamping.  Here are some examples that I made a recently:

Maybe, through substituting, I'll be able to get to know some principals and teachers and have a job by next year.  It's hard to find very many openings and they usually hire the new teachers.

     I've been busy all summer packing.  It's a hard job to pack and go through things after living in one place for 7 years.  I have arthritis in my knee which makes it hard to stand all of the time.  I was hoping to be ready to move by the end of August, but there's still too much to do.  Hopefully, I'll be ready to move by the end of September.  I have a lot of work ahead of me!

     If I were teaching, Wednesday would be the first day of school with students.  I imagine that it will be a hard day for me.  I so wish I had a classroom of students to meet and begin teaching.  I was going to go to the beach on Thursday since I really haven't had time for a trip anywhere.  I saw the forecast is for showers and a high of 60 degrees.  Instead, I'm going to go on Wednesday.  It might be nice to do something fun on a day that could be hard on me.  I'm looking forward to a day away.  Wednesday isn't supposed to have any rain and the high is to be 68.  I always enjoy going to the Oregon beach!

     Those of you who are in school already and those of you who are beginning this week I hope and pray that you have a wonderful start of a new school year!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Reading Log Freebie Update

     Last August I posted my first freebie:  a Reading Log.  I used this Reading Log this past year with my students.  I decided to copy the pages for the whole year for each student at the beginning of the year and place it in the Homework section of their "take home binders" which I called their Cupcake Book.  It saved my assistant and me time since the logs were there every week and we knew the students and parents had the Reading Log.

     Recently, I've noticed a lot of readers of my blog have been looking at that post.  One reader contacted me since I saved the Reading Log on Scibd.  Apparently, it was asking for a payment.  I want my readers to be able to have this for free, so I did some research.  I have an account with Dropbox, but I haven't ever used it to share something.  It appears it can be done, so I have updated the post from August 2012 titled My Friday Freebie.  Here is a sample of the Reading Log:

Click on the words Reading Log below the picture of the Reading Log and you will be taken to Dropbox to download the Reading Log.  Give it a little bit of time for the download to be completed.

I'm hoping I can create more items to share with everyone or use items that I created for my classroom this past year.  I'm slowly learning how to do things on this blog!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Is Here!

     Summer has arrived!  It's hard to believe, but I was so ready for it at the end of the school year.  I finished packing the classroom on Friday.  Things have been so busy lately that I haven't written anything.  I'll update what's happened most recently.

     Author Study

  We had been reading lots of Tomie dePaola books lately.  The kids weren't familiar with his books.  His books are some of my favorites.  I just love teaching about Tomie and his books.  About 13 years ago, I took a class on our State Inservice Day taught by a local teacher about Tomie's books.  She had met him and had permission to write materials about his books.  I received materials such as posters, a video, and even a rubber stamp of Strega Nona.  Since then I just love to teach about him.  We spent a couple weeks reading and learning about his personal narrative stories.  We read Tom, The Art Lesson, and The Baby Sister.  While I was teaching about Tomie and his books, I actually found a blogger who had just written a unit on Tomie's books and put it on TpT.  I was in the midst of writing one.  I bought her unit, but may still write and finish my own.  Her name is Linda Kamp and her blog is called Around the Kampfire.  You should check out her blog and store on TpT.

Here's a chart I used from her unit about Author's Point of View.  We did this chart while reading the book The Art Lesson.  Tomie's books are wonderful for teaching about point of view.

We spent another two weeks on Tomie dePaola's fiction books.  We specifically read and learned from his Strega Nona books.  I read Strega Nona, Strega Nona:  Her Story, and Strega Nona Takes a Vacation.  I made a chart by drawing Strega Nona.  The kids gave adjectives to describe her.  (They were so impressed with my drawing telling me that I'm an artist!  I am not very good at drawing.  I have a video where Tomie gives directions on how to draw her.  About 3 years ago I watched the video over and over and drew out steps on how to draw her.  I'm even impressed with myself since I usually can't draw very well!)  I usually end the unit by teaching the students how to draw Strega Nona and then having them write a little bit about the Strega Nona books or character.

We watched two videos.  The first was Tomie speaking to a group of children and their parents.  He read two books on the video to the students:  Tom and Strega Nona.  This is the one where he teaches the children how to draw Strega Nona and a lamb.  The second video was Tomie giving a tour of his home and art and writing studio.  He gives some very good lessons for the students.  This author study was a fun way to end our reading lessons for the year.  If we had more time, I would have taught much more. 

Penguin  Reports

     We were busy finishing up our penguin reports.  Due to time and that the students are only in first grade, I put the students in groups of four.  Each group wrote about one type of penguin.  Each student wrote only about one topic such as Body, Food and Eating, Babies and Young, and Interesting Information.  It took a long time to write because I wanted them to use all of the steps in the Writing Process.  I met with all of the students to edit their writing with them before they published.  At another time, I'll show pictures of the forms we used in the research and the students' writing.

Thoughts About Summer

     Since it was Father's Day only on my second day of vacation, I went to visit my dad on Sunday and stayed until today.  I'm actually needing to load my car and leave soon.

Here is a family picture from when I was only 2-1/2 with Dad.
Later one more brother was added to the family.

         What are my summer plans?  First, I want to relax and get rid of the stress in my life.  It's been a difficult year and I just need to enjoy a stress-free life.  I want to read some books:  some books about teaching and some books that are just fun.  I plan on spending time with family and friends.  I like to make crafts but I don't find much time during the school year.  I do like to rubber stamp and make cards.  I hope to find time to do that some.  Maybe a little vacation -- definitely to the Oregon coast and possibly somewhere else.  No plans yet, though.

        I've thought of dabbing into selling on TpT.  I do like all of the things I see there and would like to see if my creations are things that others would like.  I think summer would be a time I could find time to work on things.  I also want to explore more in the blogging world.  I've had this little blog and only have 26 followers.  I know I don't have exciting things on here.  There is still so much I don't know how to do.  I hope I can do some research as I read other blogs to learn more about how to post things that would interest others, participate in a link (something I don't have the slightest idea how to do), or offer freebies (I did two last summer, but I don't remember how to do it).  Somehow I'll figure things out.

        Enjoy the rest of your day and I'll be back soon!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What's Been Happening?

     I started this post a couple of weeks ago, but things have been so busy lately.  I'll post this before I get busy again.  I'll have more to add later.

     This week seemed to be a very busy and exhausting one.  I'm so glad that the weekend is here to catch up on some needed sleep.

     My first graders were in their first music program.  All three classes were practicing their songs with the music teacher.  Thursday they performed for the entire school and in the evening for their parents and grandparents.  They were so cute!  The theme of their songs was Under the Sea.

     Here's a couple of pictures of the students waiting to enter the gym.

All of these extra practices and knowing the performance was almost here made for a tough week.  It was so hard for the students to follow the rules in class.  Every student had either a solo or a small speaking part.  Our music teacher did a wonderful job pulling this altogether.

     What have we been learning?  We changed our focus in our reading lessons to Poetry.  This is an exciting genre to teach.  The kids really like it.  We began with making a chart about what we know about poetry.

We started reading a book that I saw focused on another blog.  I don't remember which blog.  It is an excellent book for kids.  The book is called Shout! Little Poems That Yell!  

We also read from other books like Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.  We will continue to study poetry, but will read other books, too.   Last week I read Tom by Tomie dePaola to the students as our mentor text.  The next couple of weeks our focus will be on books by Eric Kimmel.  He is a local author and will be at our school on May 15th.  I'll write about it after his visit.

We had a special guest to our classroom this week.  We had a guest from the local Humane Society.  She will be here 4 times to present Pet Club to the students.  The kids were so excited!  She will be teaching the kids about dogs, cats, pocket pets, and other pets and how to show kindness and take care of them.  The kids enjoyed this and are looking forward to the other visits.  

Well, I'm off to finish my lesson plans.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Break and Penguins

      I am way overdue in posting.  I'm sorry that I've been missing lately!  It's been a difficult Winter Term, but I made it to Spring Break.  My Spring Break began on Friday and I'm off until April 2nd.  This is a much needed break for me.  

     We had conferences on Wednesday after school until 8 p.m. and then on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Those were exhausting, long days.

     The students have been learning all about penguins.  They just love learning about this!  One Russian student told me one day as we lined up to go to PE, "I just love penguins!"  This boy doesn't talk a lot.  This was cute!  My modeled reading has been using books about penguins.  This quarter, in first grade, I have been teaching about nonfiction and the students can tell the difference between nonfiction and fiction.  

     The students have gained so much learning through our penguin study.  We have been learning some penguin poems.  Below is one that the kids have enjoyed about the Emperor penguin.     

Below is one of our first charts which shows what the students have learned about penguins.  We used the book Penguins from National Geographic Kids to get the information.  

We also labeled some of the main parts of the penguin.

     This past week we began a Pictorial Glossary to illustrate and define the new words that the kids are learning.  This helps the students understand one of the text features:  glossary.  It also helps them learn the new words.  I have 9 ELD students in my classroom.  Using pictures is a great way to help them learn.  I am amazed that I can even draw things like this!  They picked the word regurgitate to include in our glossary as our first word!  I told them that I would draw it after school while looking at a picture.  I'm not artistic at all, but I was able to do it by looking at a picture.  The kids loved this when they got to school the next day.  

Here is the full chart with two glossary words chosen by the students.  These are two words that they learned through the books that I have read them.

We will be adding more pages and definitions to our Pictorial Glossary.  The students are making their own Pictorial Glossary to include in their All About Penguins book.  I didn't think about taking a picture of a student's glossary page.  I'll have to do that when I return to school. 

Our ELD lesson included learning about verbs.  The book, Busy Penguins, is a board book but is excellent in showing verbs with penguins.  

I scanned the pictures and blew them up to  8-1/2" x 11" and this helped as the students learned verbs and used sentence frames to show how penguins move.  These pictures are now on our walls.

Last week I read The Emperor's Egg to the students.  This book shows and describes the Emperor penguin.  We discussed whether this book was fiction or nonfiction looking at our standard.  It was confusing at first because of the pictures, but as soon as I began to read the book they knew it was nonfiction because it gives information.  This was a new book to me, but a great one to teach with.

I read another excellent book, Penguins, written by Gail Gibbons for our modeled reading lesson during our second week of learning about penguins.  I didn't take a picture of the book and it's at school.  You can see that book on a post about penguins from last year here .

     After Spring Break the students will begin researching and writing a small report on one type of penguin.  On our last day before the Break I told them what penguin they will study:  Emperor, King, Rockhopper, Chinstrap, Gentoo, or Macaroni.  This will be their first report.  They will finish with presenting a speech to the class.

     When we return to school, we will also read some fiction books about penguins.  There are a lot of books out there, but we will read just a few.

     I've been enjoying my Spring Break so far:  sleeping in (when the cats let me), cleaning, and getting together with friends.  My car is in the shop today, so hopefully it will force me to concentrate on cleaning.  I do want to print some things for school that I want to make.  I will be leaving town (Salem, Oregon) tomorrow to go visit my dad.  While there, I will get together with friends in Portland.  It will be nice to get away for the remainder of the vacation.  I'll probably work on some school things while I'm there.  That's why I'm trying to print things now.

     I was without a printer for about a month.  That was awful!  I can't print things in color at school.  My printer was only a year and a half old, but the color wasn't coming out right and one day it quit in the middle of printing.  I had to wait until pay day to buy another one.  I was convinced to get a printer that cost a little more, but I was told I will spend less on ink.  Well, so far I haven't replaced the ink.  The black is getting low, though.  I really like this printer!

     I will try to write again during the Break!  I hope you are all having a great week whether you are teaching or are on your Spring Break!