Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer School Part 1

There is no Day 1 post due to the chaotic first day of anythingness...yep new word! The first day consisted of a shorter schedule due to an assembly, and OMGoodness we have WAY more students here than we anticipated what are we going to do!?!?

The idea was that two of our certified teachers would teach rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders ELA, Math, and PE. While I would teach the 6th grade (ELA, Math, welcome to middle school and team building) self contained. I guess the idea of "welcome to middle school" took off, we had 50+ students show up and are continuing to show up! Fortunately the superintendent showed up today and immediately went to the Cabinet and they approved us for an additional teacher. I guess it's a great problem to have!

What does a classroom with fifty or so students you ask?!

The first day consisted of taking our pretests, of course. I also had them make their own name plate, because as I informed them it was going to be difficult to memorize ALL their names in such a short amount of time. I also like having them make name plates because we added other information on them as well. In the middle they wrote their first name, top left: favorite color, top right: favorite movie, bottom left: person that has inspired them, bottom right: birth month. I use the name plates to help form groups (same birth month, same favorite color) as well as a few "get to know you" conversations.

One activity the students completed was Get to Know You BINGO. This is not a new activity, but this time I chose to use a BINGO card with a few more "difficult" boxes. You can find the lessons here. Prior to giving them the cards I let them know that some of the boxes had a few more challenging questions. We talked about being respectful and understanding. This of course got them even more interested.

My rules were: you could only sign one box per card (I wouldn't be allowed to sign 4 boxes on my friend Sally's card), you could not sign your own card, we played blackout!

When we finished the activity (time was up before BINGO was called) we returned to the classroom, and had great discussions about things they found out as they were talking to each other. Some of the responses were simple and some very deep. I was very proud of how respectful they were of each other's feelings and thoughts.

Another activity we completed was a simple Snowball.
   Each student took out a clean piece of notebook paper
   On the paper they wrote one thing they were scared/nervous about as they started middle school
   Once they wrote their response they wadded the paper up
   We stood in a circle and then threw the papers to the middle
   I called a group at a time to pick up one of the papers and read it quietly to themselves
   We returned to our seats and then shared with the whole group what was on the paper
I wrote their concerns on the board, when we were done I did my best to discuss and address their fears/concerns.

We were able to get another teacher for day 3 and the remainder of the program! We split this large group into two, but will continue to follow the same lesson plans. I'm pretty excited as to what the next few weeks bring!

Now if they could just get the air fixed I will be one happy camper...105 outside makes it pretty stuffy in the classrooms!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Instagram Help...please

Well I finally opened an Instagram account for Dandelions and Dragonflies. It wasn't because I'm against it or dislike it...I just have SO many social media accounts!

I'm not kidding....
Dandelions and Dragonflies: Facebook, Gmail, Blogger, Pinterest, and now Instagram
Quite a Pear: Facebook, Pinterest, and Yahoo
Work: Gmail, and I help manage the Facebook account
Personal: Gmail, Instagram, and Pinterest

So here is something I have ran into, on my phone I can log out of my personal Instagram account and in to Dandelions and Dragonflies account...not too difficult. The problem occurs when I want to post my D and D Instagram picture to my D and D Facebook page (are you following this?). It won't let me because I'm logged into my personal account through the FB app.

I tried to edit my D and D Instagram profile on my computer and simply add my D and D FB page to the app, but it won't let me. It says I have not selected any, but when I'm in the app and try to select it....well it goes to my personal FB page.

Am I making this more complicated then it has to be??? Should I just not link them??

Friday, July 17, 2015

A New Book

Pretty excited...just released...

This is now the third book in the series. I blogged before about the first book Because of Mr. Terupt you can catch up about the lessons and book here.

I can not stress enough about how great these book are. If you are about the start school next month I would highly recommend reading Because of Mr. Terupt to your class (5th grade is the perfect grade level).

My former students still rave about this book and I'm sure will be as excited as I am that there is a third book.

I think this poster for the book sums up the main idea of all three books...

In  all three books the chapters are broken into months, giving a little background some times during the summer, and then continue through the school year. Within each chapter you get to "hear" the story from all seven different perspectives with the seven characters telling the story in their own words and voice.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Agenda

Thank you all for the great advice and comments about blogging in the classroom and QR codes!

I will absolutely share all the "goodies" that I plan on using for the PD.

To answer a few questions:
-Our district is rolling out a 1:1 iPad initiative. This is district wide, now I do teach in a small rural district with four elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school.
-All grade levels K-12 will be 1:1. Now not all students will be able to take the iPads home.
-I was on the 1:1 committee, but there were still a lot of things that were being decided when it came to the roll out of I guess we will see when school starts :)

I am really working on trying to get back into the swing of blogging, crafting, and of course work. I figure if I am going to teach PD on blogging I should...well, actually blog!

This week I'm focusing on the crafting...filling a few orders for label/ribbon sets, and starting to craft some things for the model classroom I will be setting up for professional development...I think I FINALLY settled on a theme!! Wouldn't you like to know!

Next on the agenda is to gear up for AVID training in Denver, CO.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other post secondary opportunities.

Two people in our district wrote the grant and so now we get to head to Denver for some training with NIKE: "AVID trains educators to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education."

I'm pretty excited to see what this program holds for our district. Due to the rural area we have a large population of students that do not move on to college or those other post secondary opportunities.

I will keep you all posted.

Finally as soon as I get back from Denver I will be teaching summer school for rising 6th graders.

Whew! I guess I can't say I won't have anything to blog about.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Teaching Professional Development

During pre-planning week I will be teaching two different professional development classes: Using QR Codes in Your Classroom, and Blogging in the Classroom.

Next year our district is going 1 to 1. Every student will have an iPad, therefore our professional development will revolve around technology.

I am very prepared for teaching the QR code class.

When it comes to blogging in the classroom I am still doing a lot of research. I am very familiar with blogging as a teacher, but know and understand it is different when your students are doing the blogging.

Do any of you have your students blog?

What are your suggestions/ideas for blogging in the classroom?

to_blog_or_not_to_blog.jpg (490×348)

Friday, July 3, 2015


My first year as an instructional coach came and went so quickly. I obviously stayed extremely busy and the learning curve was HUGE...moving from a classroom teacher to instructional coach as well as from the elementary school to the middle school made that curve even larger.

Two things I am most proud of at the end of this year:
1. The connections I made and relationships I was able to build with my teachers.
2. Surviving the new SBAC testing (part of my job is building test coordinator).

The great thing about having my first year under my belt is being able to plan what to improve and change next year. It's also nice to have the first year...what is that? how do I do that? you want that when?'s under my belt (well some of them, as we know in education things are always changing).

My number one goal for next year is to get into the classrooms more! Managing my schedule is something that got away from me this year. I'm on a lot of teams/committees and am in tons of meetings! So, I really need to plan being in classrooms, put it on my schedule, and keep to my schedule! One way of going about this is to keep a rotating schedule of visiting specific grade levels on certain days, then hopefully I won't feel like a ping pong ball. The difficult part of this is being available during teachers preps to talk with them as needed. I found this year my teachers were more likely to "pop" in and talk with me during that time of their day.

Which brings me to number two goal, make my visits meaningful. I plan on using some of the tools I have been reading about in a book titled: 17,000 Classroom Visits Can't Be Wrong. I want my visits to be data driven and be able to hand that data over to my teachers for them to use and if they want make a plan to possibly improve areas they feel are weak.

Finally, I am going to be able to have a model classroom! I get to decorate a classroom again!!! Whooohooo! I will be teaching summer school this year and I will use some of that time to begin setting it up. During the school year we will use the classroom for staff development, professional development, our district PLCs, and finally I will invite teachers in to co-teach or model lessons for them.

In closing, a shout out to my Secondary Coaching Team (middle school and high school), we were named Outstanding Teaching Team of the Year.

Finally my cutie is now a 1st grader, and made the newspaper!